The name of Congress veteran Sitaram Kesari, who helmed the party from 1996 to 1998, disappeared and was later added to the list of former party presidents on its website on Tuesday. Hours after the Congress party's website did not show the name of its former party president Sitaram Keshri in their list of past presidents, his name re-appeared in the list with the Congress calling it a 'technical error.'
On Tuesday, Congress party's official website in its leadership column displayed the name of former PM PV Narshima Rao and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi as post-liberalization era Congress presidents but did not display the name of Keshri who was party chief from September 1996 to March 1998. The post Liberalization era, as per the website is the period from 1990 to 2018.
Speaking on the incident the Congress party termed it as a technical error. The newly amended list of the former party president from 1990 to 2018 contains name of PV Narshimha Rao, Sonia Gandhi and Sitharam Kesri. The list also featured Congress leaders who served as Party president since the formation of Congress in 1885.
Here is the screenshot of the website taken at 08:15 hours on Tuesday:
However, hours after the development his name reappeared in the list. Here is the screenshot of the website taken at 12:38 hours on Tuesday:
Kesri who served as Congress president from 1996- 1998 after former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao stepped down as the party chief in 1996. During his term, the Congress party had withdrawn the support from the HD Deve Gowda’s government which led the fall of the government in 1997. Kesri in 1998 was replaced by Sonia Gandhi. He was also denied the Rajya Sabha ticket in 2000 after his term ended. Kesri’s removal from the party chief post was many as a betrayal of the party constitution.
This development comes amidst the political hullabaloo within the Congress with its chief Rahul Gandhi adamant on resigning from his post after the party's Lok Sabha poll debacle, and the state Congress committees passing resolution requesting him to continue. Meanwhile, many of the Congress party presidents have resigned after the Lok Sabha polls taking responsibility of the defeat.
Here is the list of Congress party chiefs since the Independence:
Jawaharlal Nehru: He had held the post in 1952 while serving as the first Prime Minister of India.
U.N. Dhebar - (1955-59): After his term as the Gujarat Chief Minister from 1948-54, Dhebar was the Congress president between 1955-59. He was later elected to the Lok Sabha from Rajkot.
Indira Gandhi: She took over as party president in 1959, a move which got criticism for nepotism. Even Jawaharlal Nehru disapproved the move and called it “wholly undemocratic and an undesirable thing”. She later served as party chief between 1978-1983, and again from 1983 till her assassination in 1984.
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy - (1960-63): He was the sixth President of India. He had also served as the Congress president thrice. He had resigned from his party after becoming the Lok Sabha Speaker in order to stress upon the importance of the Speaker’s non-partisan nature. He lost the presidential elections in 1969 to VV Giri and retired from politics. He came back into politics as a Janata Party candidate and won in the Lok Sabha elections and was chosen to be the Speaker. But he resigned from his post to become the President of India from 1977-82.
K Kamaraj - (1964-67): He earned the title of 'Kingmaker' in the political circle. He is credited to have made Lal Bahadur Shastri’ as the Prime Minister and elevation of Indira Gandhi as the Congress president.
Nijalingappa - (1968-69): He served as the Chief Minister of Karnataka (then Mysore State). He took over the reins of the Congress in 1968. He expelled Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from Congress for anti-party activities. He was the party president between 1956 and 1958 and once again, between 1962 and 1968.
Jagjivan Ram - (1970-71): A Congress loyalist, he had joined the Congress faction led by Indira Gandhi following the split in the party. He was the first president of the faction which was recognised as the original Congress by Election Commission of India. He later joined the Janata Party became the Deputy Prime Minister.
Shankar Dayal Sharma - (1972-74): A close confidante of Indira Gandhi, he became the party president in 1962. He later became the Vice President and President of India.
Devakanta Barua - (1975-77): He too was a close confidante of Indira Gandhi and led the party in the Emergency era. During his term. His phrase, “India is Indira, Indira is India,” reverberates in Indian political discourse even to this day.
Rajiv Gandhi: He became the Congress president in 1985 following Indira Gandhi's assassination and remained in the post until his assassination in 1991.
PV Narasimha Rao (1992-96): He took upon the mantle in 1992 following Rajiv Gandhi's death. He was believed to be replaced as the president with Sitaram Kesri following a coup and is alleged to have been unfairly treated in the retelling of Congress history.
Sitaram Kesri: He was the Congress president for two years. He too is believed to be removed as the party chief through a coup by Sonia Gandhi's loyalists.
Sonia Gandhi: She became the president in 1998 and led the party till 2017. She has had the longest term (19 years) as the party president.
Rahul Gandhi: He became the Congress chief in 2017. He tendered his resignation as the Congress president following the massive defeat of the party by the BJP. His resignation was rejected by the party.