Congress presidential elections: A look at past chiefs since independence
Rajiv Gandhi - the sixth prime minister of the country - became the party president during the Bombay session in 1985, when the party celebrated its centenary.
The fate of who will become the Congress's next president - between veteran leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor - is being sealed on Monday with voting going across the country; the results will be out on Wednesday. More than 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates are eligible to vote to pick the party chief to succeed interim chief Sonia Gandhi in a secret ballot. Sonia Gandhi - the longest-serving party president - said she “had been waiting for a long time” when asked about how she felt about the elections.
Here is a list of all party presidents that served Congress after independence:
1948-49 : B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya also known as the historian of the Indian National Congress (INC), was elected the president of the 55th Jaipur session. He strongly opposed the partition of Bengal in 1905 and was nominated by Mahatma Gandhi to be party chief towards the end of 1938 but was defeated in the election.
1950: Purushottam Das Tandon was elected as the president of the AICC in 1950 for the Nasik session. He resigned on the eve of the 1952 general elections, citing differences with Jawaharlal Nehru over the constitution of the Working Committee and the relationship between the party’s organisational and government wings.
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1951-54: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, country’s first prime minister, was elected as the Congress’s president for the first time in 1929. After independence, he was elected as the AICC chief again in 1951 and he continued till 1954.
1955-1959: Uchharangrai Navalshankar Dhebar was elected as the Congress president in 1955, and he served till 1959. He played a very crucial role in integrating princely states of Kathiawad in the Indian Union and was appointed as the chief minister of Saurashtra State in 1948.
1960-62: N. Sanjiva Reddy, the first chief minister of the new state of Andhra Pradesh after its constitution, was elected President of the Indian National Congress in December 1959.
1964-66: K. Kamaraj - who once served as the president of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee - presided over the Congress session for three years.
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1968 -69: S. Nijalingappa - founder of modern Karnataka - became the president at a time when people were starting to lose faith in the party. During his term, the Congress party was split.
1969: Jagjivan Ram - hailed as “spokesman of the depressed classes” - presided over the 73rd Congress session held in Bombay. He was set to be the only Dalit leader to serve at the helm in coming decades.
1972: Shankar Dayal Sharma presided over the Calcutta session, was elected for a two-year term. During his presidency, the Congress revitalised and gained back some of its lost prestige.
1975: D.K. Barooah was born in Dibrugarh in Assam. He had a thriving political career and also served as a member of the Constituent Assembly in 1949.
1978 and 1983: Indira Gandhi - the country's first woman PM - presided over the Congress Delhi special session in 1959.
1985: Rajiv Gandhi - the sixth prime minister of the country - became the party president during the Bombay session in 1985, when the party celebrated its centenary.
1992-94: P.V. Narasimha Rao - leader from Andhra Pradesh - was credited for liberalising the Indian economy.
1997: Sitaram Kesri presided over the Indian National Congress Session in Kolkata - which was Calcutta at the time - in 1997.
1998: Sonia Gandhi - the longest serving president of the party - was also the chairperson of the Coordinating Committee of the ruling coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
2018: Rahul Gandhi was the forerunner of his party since December 2017 and resigned in 2019 following the party's defeat in the 2019 general elections.
After Rahul Gandhi’s resignation, Sonia Gandhi has been serving as the interim party president.