Congress of the Nehru-Gandhis: A party of Termites
by Hari Om on 14 Mar 2013 4 Comments

Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor, a Congress-style intellectual, suggested at a meeting in Bhopal on February 24, 2013, that the Congress party, if voted to power, will like its president or vice-president to be the natural choice for the post of Prime Minister. “Everybody knows who is the president and vice-president of our party and if people vote for our party, then naturally one among them would become Prime Minister of the country,” he said, without mentioning names.


Underline the word “naturally”. This statement should not surprise anyone. Tharoor only spoke from his heart and left none in doubt that for him, as for most others in the Grand Old Party of India, Congress means the party of the Nehru-Gandhi family, by the Nehru-Gandhi family, and for the Nehru-Gandhi family. Also, that Congress sans the Nehru-Gandhi family is no party, but a meaningless sham; all others in the party are no more than courtiers and loyalists.


This ‘Family’ Congress is not that Indian National Congress which was founded in Bombay (Mumbai) in December 1885, and functioned till India attained its so-called political emancipation and beyond for a couple of decades. Even though it was established by retired British civil servant Allan Octavian Hume in consultation with then Conservative Governor-General and Viceroy Lord Dufferin and then Conservative Secretary of State for India and Marquess of Salisbury Lord Randolph Churchill to defeat the Indian freedom struggle against the British by cultivating some “influential” and “moderate” western educated Indians like WC Bonnerjee, a Christian who believed in the “British sense of justice”, the INC functioned in a democratic manner to an extent.


There were a few aberrations here and there, including MK Gandhi’s refusal to accept Subhash Chandra Bose as president in 1939. (Bose won the presidential election hands down, for the second time consecutively, defeating Gandhi’s candidate Pattabhi Sitaramayya at the Tripuri Congress session and Gandhi called it his “personal defeat”. Bose resigned and left the Congress and founded Forward Block.) There is also the fact that Hume functioned as the party general secretary for 25 years or so. He and other Britons facilitated the foundation of the INC with a purpose and he achieved the objective by giving a British-centric orientation to the INC.


Yet the Congress functioned in a fairly democratic manner between 1885 and 1947. The INC used to elect its president annually and the election was a somewhat democratic exercise. Between 1885 and 1947, the INC held elections to elect the party president as many as 62 times. Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee was the first president, a non-elected president. After him, almost all those who headed the party were elected presidents.


They included Dadabhai Naoroji (1886), Badruddin Tyabji (1887), George Yule (1888), William Wedderburn (1889), Pherozeshah Mehta (1890), P. Anand Charlu (1891), WC Bonnerjee (1892), Dadabhai Naoroji (1893), Alfred Webb (Madras), Surendranath Banerjee (1895), Rahimtulla M Sayani (1896), C Shankaran Nair (1897), Anand Mohan Bose (1898), Ramesh Chunder Dutt (1899), Narayan Ganesh Chandavarkar (1900), Dinashah Edulji Wacha (1901), Surendranath Banerjee (1902), Lalmohan Ghose (1903), Sir Henry Cotton (1904), Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1905), Dadabhai Naoroji (1906), Rashbihari Ghosh (1907 & 1908), Madan Mohan Malaviya (1909), William Wedderburn (1910), Bishan Narayan Dar (1911), Rao Bahadur Raghunath Narasinha Mudholkar (1912), Nawab Syed Mohammad Bahadur (1913), Bhupendra Nath Bose (1914), Satyendra Prasanna Sinha (1915), Ambica Charan Mazumdar (1916), Annie Besant (1917), Syed Hasan Imam (1918), Madan Mohan Malaviya (1918), Motilal Nehru (1919), Lala Lajpat Rai (1920), C. Vijayaraghavachariar (1920), Hakim Ajmal Khan (1921), Chittaranjan Das (1922), Maulana Mohammad Ali (1923), Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1923), Mahatma Gandhi (1924), Sarojini Naidu (1925), S. Srinivasa Iyengar (1926), Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari (1927), Motilal Nehru (1928), Jawaharlal Nehru (1929 & 1930), Vallabhbhai Patel (1931), Madan Mohan Malaviya (1932), Nellie Sen Gupta/Madan (1933), Rajendra Prasad (1934), Jawaharlal Nehru (1935-1937), Subhas Chandra Bose (1938), Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1940), JB Kripalani (1946 & 1947), Pattabhi Sitaramayya (1948 & 1949) and  Purshottam Das Tandon (1950).


This list of INC presidents between 1885 and 1951 shows that the Nehrus, including Sarojini Naidu, led the party only for seven out of 66 years. Things changed dramatically in 1951 when Jawaharlal Nehru was again elected president of the INC. He continued to lead the party for five years without any break after 1951.


In 1978, his daughter Indira Gandhi was elected as INC president for the first time and she held the post for six years without any break (1978-1984). She was replaced by her son Rajiv Gandhi who held the post till his untimely death at the hands of LTTE terrorists in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991 (1985-1991). He held the post for almost seven years. His wife of Italian origin Sonia Gandhi (a Christian married to a Parsi) became president of the Congress party in 1998 and has been occupying the post ever since, with her son Rahul Gandhi holding the number two position in the party and who will replace her as and when his mother decides to leave the position.


In between, other Congress leaders who served as INC president after 1955 include UN Dhebar (1955-1959), Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy (1960-1963), K Kamraj (1964-1967) S Nijalingappa (1968-1969), Jagjivan Ram (1969-1971), Shankar Dayal Sharma (1972-1974), Dev Kanta Barua (1975-1977), PV Narasimha Rao (1992-1996) and Sitaram Kesri (1997-1998).


Taken together, the Nehru-Gandhi family has controlled the Congress party for more than 33 years out of 65 years after independence, and it is extremely difficult to say when again the Congress party would have a president not connected with this family, which is happy with the strange designation of first family.


Of course, it would not be accurate to blame the Nehru-Gandhi family for the position it has been enjoying since decades. It found the conditions conducive for establishing its hegemony over the party, with many Congressmen across the nation with little or no support-base or mass experience unconditionally offering their services to the family in the hope of getting suitable opportunities to promote their selfish interests at the cost of the nation and the state.


Tharoor’s statement needs to be viewed in this context. In sum, it can be said that it would be a misnomer to call the Congress party as the INC or as a party of Indians in the real sense of the term. It would be proper to term it a party of sycophants, as many keen Congress-watchers have long said.


Best however, is Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s designation of the scam-ridden Congress as a party of “termites” (March 3, 2013, at the BJP conclave at Talkatora stadium, New Delhi). Indeed, the Congress is a party of “termites”, and it is doing to the nation what termites do best.

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