The Indian National Congress (pronunciation ) (INC, often called the Congress Party or simply Congress) is a political party in India with widespread roots. Founded in 1885, it was the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire in Asia and Africa. From the late 19th century, and especially after 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement. Congress led India to independence from Great Britain, and powerfully influenced other anti-colonial nationalist movements in the British Empire.
Congress is a secular party whose social democratic platform is generally considered to be on the centre-left of Indian politics. Congress' social policy is based upon the Gandhian principle of Sarvodaya—the lifting up of all sections of society—which involves the improvement of the lives of economically underprivileged and socially marginalised people. The party primarily endorses social democracy—seeking to balance individual liberty and social justice, welfare and secularism—asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings. Its constitution states democractic socialism to be its ideal.
After India's independence in 1947, Congress formed the central government of India, and many regional state governments. Congress became India's dominant political party; as of 2015, in the 15 general elections since independence, it has won an outright majority on six occasions and has led the ruling coalition a further four times, heading the central government for 49 years. There have been seven Congress Prime Ministers, the first being Jawaharlal Nehru (1947–1964), and the most recent Manmohan Singh (2004–2014). Although it did not fare well in the last general elections in India in 2014, it remains one of two major, nationwide, political parties in India, along with the right-wing, Hindu nationalist, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the 2014 general election, Congress had its poorest post-independence general election performance, winning only 44 seats of the 543-member Lok Sabha.
From 2004 to 2014, United Progressive Alliance, a coalition of Congress with several regional parties, formed the Indian government led by Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister as the head of the coalition government. The leader of the party during the period, Sonia Gandhi has served the longest term as the president of the party. As of December 2018, the party is in power in six legislative assemblies: Karnataka (in an alliance with the JD(S)), Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and the union territory of Puducherry (in an alliance with the DMK).