Chairperson :Sonia Gandhi
Headquarters : 24, Akbar Road,New Delhi, 110011.
The history of the Indian National Congress falls into two distinct eras:
- The pre-independence era, when the party was at the forefront of the struggle for independence and was instrumental in the whole of India;
- The post-independence era, when the party has enjoyed a prominent place in Indian politics, ruling the country for 48 of the 60 years since independence in 1947.
The Congress was founded by Indian and British members of the occultist movement Theosophy Society, most notably A.O. Hume. It has been suggested that the idea was originally conceived in a private meeting of seventeen men after a Theosophical Convention held at Madras in December 1884. Hume took the initiative, and it was in March 1885, when the first notice was issued convening the first Indian National Union to meet at Poona the following December.
Womesh Chandra Bannerjee was the first President of the INC. Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel are said to have held the view that the INC was formed only for achieving independence and should have been disbanded in 1947.
The first serious challenge to Congress hegemony came in 1967 when a united opposition, under the banner of Samyukt Vidhayak Dal, won control over several states in the Hindi belt. Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Nehru, and Congress president, was then challenged by the majority of the party leadership.
In 1998, Sonia Gandhi finally accepted the post of Congress President, in a move that may have saved the party from extinction.
The Indian National Congress-led coalition United Progressive Alliance (UPA), headed by Ms. Sonia Gandhi, won the plurality of votes in the general elections of 2009 and formed the government under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh.