As the Congress gets ready to welcome its new chief, 47-year-old Rahul Gandhi, the stage is being set for a change in guard after 19 years.
New Delhi: A prominent leader of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Father of the Nation. People of foreign origin, and from all corners of the country. Four women, and three leaders assassinated.
The presidents of India’s grand old party have written their own chapters in history. As the Congress gets ready to welcome its new chief, 47-year-old Rahul Gandhi, the stage is being set for a change in guard after 19 years.
Of the 15 people who led the 132-year-old party post independence, four belonged to the Gandhi-Nehru family. When Mr Gandhi takes over as the president, he will be the fifth.
The Nehru-Gandhi clan was at the helm of affairs of the party after independence for 38 years: Nehru for three years, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi for eight years each, and Sonia Gandhi for a record 19 years.
Long before independence, his great-great grandfather, Motilal Nehru, headed the party, the first from the family to do so. The party has been helmed by some illustrious people — including Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, Abul Kalam Azad and Sarojini Naidu.
Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, who wore several hats as journalist, jurist and politician, was the president of the first session of the Congress held in what was then Bombay in December 1885. Dadabhai Naoroji was the second.
Decades before questions were raised about Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin, the party had five presidents who were not born in India.
According to “Congress and the Making of Indian Nation”, a two-volume set edited by former Congress leader and ex-President of India Pranab Mukherjee, Scottish merchant George Yule was the president of the party in 1888 and presided over the Allahabad session. Sir William Wedderburn, a former member of the Indian Civil Service, headed the party twice—in 1889 and 1910.
Madan Mohan Malviya, later one of the main leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha, presided over the Congress in 1909 and 1918. Motilal Nehru, father of India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, was party president in 1919 and 1928.