From 1952 To 2014: A Timeline Of The Congress Party’s Rise And Fall

From 1952 to 2014, the Indian National Congress has gone through a rollercoaster ride. Through this piece, I wish to map out its journey and the factors affecting its performances.

1952 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 364 seats out of a total of 498.

The reason behind it: A weak Opposition, a powerful image of Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress received strong support from almost every class especially from the upper castes, Dalits and Muslims.

1957 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 371 seats out of the total 494.

The reason behind it: A weak Opposition and the popular image of Jawaharlal Nehru. The Congress was favoured among the upper castes, Dalits and Muslims which helped ensure an easy win.

1962 Lok Sabha Election:

The Indian National Congress won 361 seats out of 494.

The reason behind it: A weak Opposition and the popular image of Jawaharlal Nehru. The Congress party was favoured among the upper castes, Dalits and Muslims which helped ensure an easy win.

1967 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 283 seats out of the total 520.

The reason behind it: It lost 67 seats and about 4% votes as compared to the last general election due to some internal conflicts and low growth rate, mainly due to the 1962 war with China and the 1965 war with Pakistan.

Lal Bahadur Shastri, in his very small tenure, made some great efforts and delivered good governance, but the Congress suffered and lost some seats. Still, the Congress won the election with a healthy majority. The Congress party was still receiving good support from the upper castes, Dalits and Muslims. The Opposition too, was also struggling in the same aspects.

Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, was leading the Indian National Congress which helped her to become the Prime Minister.

1971 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 352 seats out of the total 518.

The reason behind it: This time, while the Congress did improve by winning a large number of seats, it got divided. Indira faced tough challenges from an opponent party called the Indian National Congress (Organisation) which was formed after the split of the Congress. INC(O) received excellent support by winning 51 seats and earning 24.34% of the votes.

Indira Gandhi campaigned very hard for this election. She was still very popular, and proved her power again by winning the elections with a clear majority.

1977 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 189 seats out of 542. The Congress led by Indira Gandhi was defeated badly this time. The Janata Party won the election, and Morarji Desai was chosen as the Prime Minister, making him India’s first non-Congress Prime Minister.

The reason behind it: The main reason for Indira Gandhi and the Congress’s defeat was the Emergency. Indira lost her popularity in states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Odisha, etc, but she received excellent support from the states in the south. Jayaprakash Narayan’s ‘total revolution’ became successful and Janata Party united all opposition outfits and built a strong front to defeat Indira Gandhi. At that time, people were suffering from issues like misrule, unemployment, and corruption.

1980 Lok Sabha Election

Indian National Congress won 374 seats out of the total 542. Indira Gandhi again came to power by winning a handsome number of seats.

The reason behind it: The Janata Party was divided into pieces due to internal conflicts and greed. The Janata Party became weak, the opposition to the Congress got fractured, and this boosted the Congress. People again started voting for the Congress, and they became strong again.

1984 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 404 seats out of 533.

The reason behind it: This election happened soon after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The Congress won a huge number seats as Rajeev Gandhi, the son of Indira Gandhi, received massive support from the voters. The upper castes, Dalits, Muslims, supported him and his party.

1989 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 197 seats out of the total 545. Congress lost 207 seats and about 9% votes in comparison to the last general election.

The reason behind it: This time, VP Singh’s party, the Janata Dal, allied itself with many strong regional political parties like the TDP, DMK, AGP, and formed the National Front to challenge the Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi. The Janata Dal won 143 seats – and the BJP, for the first time, was successful in winning 83 seats in that election. The BJP supported VP Singh’s government from the outside.

The Communist Party of India also supported the VP Singh government, and thus, Vhe became the Prime Minister. The Congress lost this election because Rajiv Gandhi did not do anything that was special, which stood out for his voters. His governance was not impressive – people were suffering from the issue of corruption, and his government (from 1984–89) did not create any big change. Their stand on the Ayodhya issue helped the BJP, which received support from upper-caste Hindus and other Hindu nationalists in Indian states like Bihar, UP, Gujarat, Himachal, MP.

1991 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 244 seats out of the total 545.

The reason behind it: After the first round of the polling, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. The Congress party, which did badly in the constituencies before the assassination, swept through the constituencies in the post-assassination period. A minority Congress-led government (with the help of Left parties), with P.V. Narasimha Rao at the helm, was formed.

1996 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 140 seats out of 545.

The reason behind it: Narasimha Rao helped fix the Indian economy, but his government faced many charges of corruption and misrule. The BJP joined hands with strong regional parties like the Shiv Shena, HPV and the Samta Party. The BJP campaigned for the role of Hindutva in its vision for India, advocated self-reliance in economy and security. Led by Atal ji, the BJP got 161 seats, but the result of the election was a hung parliament. The BJP then formed a short-lived government.

H.D. Deve Gowda became the PM from the Janata Dal with the support of the Left parties and the Congress. A large section of Hindu voters who once used to vote for the Congress in the past elections started shifting towards the BJP.

1998 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 141 seats out of the total 545.

The reason behind it: The Congress left the United Front, and new elections took place. After the result of that election, no political party was able to form a strong alliance. The BJP was growing fast, and they got 182 seats. At last, BJP formed the government with 286 members, but Vajpayee’s government collapsed once again in late 1998, when the AIADMK withdrew their support.

1999 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 114 seats out of the total 545. The NDA, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, formed the government. BJP won 182 seats. Once again, the Congress failed, and the BJP was improving.

2004 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 145 seats out of the total 543. Congress returned to the power with the help of its allies.

The reason behind it: The BJP won 138 seats in this election, but support from strong regional parties like the BSP, SP and the Left Front helped Congress gain power. Dr Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister. The Left Front and strong regional allies saved the Congress. But the BJP was still there in the picture.

2009 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 206 seats out of 543. Manmohan Singh again became the PM of India with the support of regional parties like RJD, BSP, SP.

2014 Lok Sabha Election

The Indian National Congress won 44 seats out of 543. The NDA, led by Narendra Modi, won a sweeping victory. BJP won 282 seats and 31% of the votes, while the Congress won only 19.52% votes.

The reason behind it: I don’t need to mention the corruption scandals UPA-2 was mired in. Further, the effect of the ‘Modi Wave’ helped bring the BJP to power. In my opinion, the Indian National Congress failed because of numerous events and decisions such as the Mandal Commission, Congress’s stand on the Ayodhya matter, the Ram Rath Yatra controversy, the demoilition of the Babri Masjid and the events after that, etc. The rise of regional parties, instances of minority appeasements, allegations of corruption and an increased spurt of caste-based politics furthered the case.

Dynasty politics and Rahul Gandhi’s failed leadership qualities have been quoted as reasons due to which the BJP won in the last election. However, today, the tables seem to be shaky, if not turned. I can’t wait to watch what happens next!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

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The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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