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Summary Article: Congress Party from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Indian political party, founded in 1885 as the Indian National Congress. It led the movement to end British rule and was the governing party from independence in 1947 until 1977, when Indira Gandhi lost the leadership she had held since 1966. Congress also held power from 1980 to 1989 and from 1991 to 1996. Heading a splinter group, known as Congress (I) (‘I’ for Indira), she achieved an overwhelming victory in the elections of 1980, and reduced the main Congress Party to a minority. The ‘I’ was dropped from the name in 1993 following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, and a small split occurred in the party in 1995.

The Indian National Congress, founded by the British colonialist Allan Hume (1829–1912), was a moderate body until World War I. Then, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, it began a campaign of nonviolent noncooperation with the British colonizers. It was declared illegal 1932–34, but was recognized as the paramount power in India at the granting of independence in 1947. Dominated in the early years of Indian independence by Prime Minister Nehru, the party won the elections of 1952, 1957, and 1962. Under the leadership of Indira Gandhi from 1966, it went on to win the elections of 1967 and 1971, but was defeated for the first time in 1977. It has since held power 1980–89 and 1991–96. Despite Rajiv Gandhi's widow, Sonia, taking on the party's leadership, it finished well behind the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the February 1998 general election. In May 1999 Sonia Gandhi resigned as the party's leader after three senior politicians said it should not be ruled by a foreigner; they were nevertheless expelled from the party and later in May Gandhi resumed her leadership.

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