The Indian National Congress (INC), once one of the most dominant political parties in India, has seen a significant decline in its power and influence in the years since India’s independence. This article will examine the various factors that have contributed to this decline, including internal party politics, shifting societal values, and changing political landscapes.
- Indian general elections of 2014: In the 2014 general elections, the INC won just 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament), its worst-ever performance in a national election. This represented a significant decline from the previous election in 2009, when the party won 206 seats.
- Indian general elections of 2019: In the 2019 general elections, the INC saw its vote share decline even further, winning just 52 seats. This result was widely seen as a reflection of the party’s inability to effectively challenge the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its inability to connect with voters on a national level.
- State assembly elections: The decline of the INC is not limited to national elections, and can also be seen in the results of state assembly elections. For example, in the recent state assembly elections in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the INC saw its vote share decline significantly, winning just nine seats in the 234-member assembly.
Reasons for decline of INC
Internal Party Politics
One of the major factors in the decline of the INC has been the internal politics of the party. The INC has been plagued by infighting and factionalism since its inception, and these internal divisions have only become more pronounced in recent years. In particular, the party has struggled to find a clear and unifying leader, with different factions vying for control and different leaders emerging as the face of the party at different times.
This lack of clear leadership has made it difficult for the INC to present a united front to the public, and has also hindered the party’s ability to make decisive decisions and implement effective policies. Additionally, the factionalism within the party has often been based on regional, ethnic, and personal differences, making it difficult for the party to appeal to a broad cross-section of Indian voters.
Shifting Societal Values
Another factor that has contributed to the decline of the INC is the shifting societal values of the Indian people. In the years following independence, the INC was able to build a broad-based coalition of support, drawing on the ideals of nationalism, secularism, and socialism. However, as India has developed and become more economically and socially diverse, these ideals have become less relevant to many Indians, and the INC has struggled to adapt to these changing circumstances.
In particular, the party’s commitment to secularism has become a significant liability in recent years, as Hindu nationalism has become a more prominent political force in India. The INC has been criticized for failing to effectively counter the rise of Hindu nationalism and for not doing enough to protect the rights of minority communities. Additionally, the party’s commitment to socialism has also become less relevant in a rapidly globalizing and market-oriented economy, and many Indians have come to view the INC as a party that is out of touch with their economic aspirations.
Changing Political Landscapes
Finally, the decline of the INC can also be attributed to the changing political landscapes of India. In the years following independence, the INC was the dominant political force in India, and there were few serious challenges to its power. However, as India has become more democratic and more politically diverse, a number of new parties and movements have emerged that have challenged the dominance of the INC.
In particular, the rise of regional political parties has had a significant impact on the INC, as these parties have been able to appeal to voters in specific regions and ethnic groups in a way that the INC has not. Additionally, the emergence of new political movements, such as the anti-corruption movement, has created new and diverse political forces that have further eroded the power of the INC.
The decline of the Indian National Congress is a complex and multifaceted process that has been shaped by a variety of internal and external factors. From internal party politics to shifting societal values and changing political landscapes, the INC has struggled to maintain its relevance and power in the years since independence. However, despite these challenges, the INC remains an important political force in India, and its role in shaping the country’s history and future should not be underestimated.