The Congress has announced that elections for its president will take place in October, despite Rahul Gandhi’s continued reluctance to assume leadership of his party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Due to the Gandhi family’s influence over Congress’s operations, the party has faced accusations of dynastic politics. Its most recent presidential election was held in November 2000.
The Congress’s top decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), convened on Sunday to approve the October 17 presidential election. On October 19, the election results will be made public.
Sonia Gandhi has been the party president for the longest period of time in the organization’s more than 130-year history. After the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, she replaced Sitaram Kesri as the party’s leader.
Here is a look at the individuals who have led Congress as party presidents thus far since India’s independence as it prepares to elect its next leader.
1947: J. B. KRIPALANI
When India was freed from British colonial rule, J B Kripalani—also known as Acharya Kripalani—was the president of the Congress. He participated in many freedom movements and was active in party matters. Later, in order to create the Kisan Majdoor Praja Party, he left the Congress. He won four elections to the Lok Sabha.
PATTABHI SITARAMAYYA (1948-49)
Sitaramayya won the 1948 Congress presidential elections with the assistance of the country’s then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. From 1952 to 1957, he was also Madhya Pradesh’s governor. One of the leaders who pushed for Andhra Pradesh to become a separate state was Sitaramayya. Following this, PURUSHOTTAM DAS TANDON (1950), JAWAHARLAL NEHRU (1951–54), U N DHEBAR (1955–59), INDIRA GANDHI (1959, 1966–67, 1978–84), NEELAM SANJIVA REDDY (1960–63), K KAMARAJ (1964–67), S NIJALINGAPPA (1968–69), JAGJIVAN RAM (1970–71), SHANKAR DAYAL SHARMA (1972-74), DEVAKANTA BARUA (1975-77), RAJIV GANDHI (1985-91), P V NARASIMHA RAO (1992-96), SITARAM KESRI (1996-98) served as prime ministers. T
SONIA GANDHI(1998-2017 & 2019-PRESENT)
In 1998, Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv’s widow, assumed leadership of the Congress and remained in that position for the longest. During her tenure, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in 2014 after Congress lost the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2009. When her son Rahul Gandhi won the presidency in 2017 with no opposition, her presidency came to an end. Rahul Gandhi did, however, resign from his position as Congress president following the 2019 Lok Sabha election, accepting “moral” responsibility. Later, Sonia Gandhi assumed control as the party’s acting president.
RAHUL GANDHI (2017-2019)
On December 11, 2017, Rahul Gandhi was unanimously chosen as the Party’s leader. In the 2018 Assembly elections, he guided the party to triumph in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Chhattisgarh. However, the 2019 General Elections ended in a humiliating loss for Congress. In resigning, he accepted “moral” accountability. After the defeat in 2019, a number of party leaders around the nation submitted their resignations in support of Rahul Gandhi.