The Decline of Indian National Congress Party

The Indian National Congress Party has been central to the public life of India for almost 125 years. It is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being BJP. From 1947 to 1995, it had been the dominant political force in Independent India’s Politics.

In 1995, resignation of various senior leaders, Harshad Mehta scandal and “Tandoor Murder” case had damaged PV Narsimha Rao’s government capability. After these golden years, the party leadership is continuously under immense threat. Since then the crisis for Indian National Congress has constantly been on the rise.

After independence, Congress, the largest Indian party, governed India under Nehru’s leadership. It won majority seats in elections. After Nehru’s death the party began to lose support. But Indira Gandhi and then her son Rajiv Gandhi succeeded the party leadership and regained the public support for the party. After Rajiv Gandhi’s death, PV Narsimha Rao with the help of Dr. Manmohan Singh brought major economic reforms in the country. But it was not enough.
The 1991, 1996 and 1998 elections saw a period of consistent surge of BJP and its allies.

BJP expanded its political reach with the help of various regional parties. BJP performed exceedingly well in various state elections also. In 13th Lok Sabha elections, under the able leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, coalition of BJP and its allies – NDA won 298 seats and Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister of India.

BJP led NDA government completed five years of its rule and believed that it will again win majority in Lok Sabha due to feel-good factor and its promotional campaign of “India Shining”. But Congress was able to put a comfortable majority with the external support from BSP, SP, MDMK and the Left Front due to backing of poor, rural, lower-caste & minority voters and anti-incumbency factors against BJP. This post-poll alliance was called the United Progressive Alliance.

Again in 2009, Congress achieved a landmark victory with 206 seats in the new 543-member parliament.
Congress showed signs of regeneration after a steady decline in the past two decades. There were two reasons for Congress’s reemergence. First, opposition parties were continuously failing. Second, Congress was able to connect with people of every class and religion. It was surely a sign of new era in India’s Politics. But did it continue?
No. The UPA was expected to implement major reforms but corruption scandals had paralyzed the government.

India and people of India had been worst hit by scandals surfacing one after another through 2011: the 2G scam, Commonwealth Games scandal, the “Cash for Votes” and the most recently the Karnataka mining affair. Anna Hazare’s anti corruption mission had jeopardized the vestigial faith of people in Congress. With the government’s image tarnished BJP seem to be a stronger opposition in next election.

Above all Congress declined from a monopoly to a surviving party in India. Is it due to birth of stronger oppositions in India? No, it is because of self-destruction of Congress and its leaders. In current times, neither of premier parties can claim full power in India. In fact, it is not the story of decay of Indian National Congress but it is about the governance crisis of India. India surely and voraciously needs its Mother.

Sumit Goyal