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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!