The instances of rebellion by the leaders in Congress, India’s oldest party, can be traced as early as 1939 when Subhas Chandra Bose parted ways with it, and later another bigwig C Rajagopalachari left to form an independent party in 1957. The sporadic episodes of rebellion continued during and after the era of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
In the latest such switch, former Union Minister and Congress leader Jitin Prasada hopped over to the Bharatiya Janata Party on June 9.
The former MP switched to the BJP just a year after Jyotiraditya Scindia jumped the ship to the saffron party. While a good number of rebels chose to switch to other parties, a large section floated their own parties and gave a tough fight to the grand old party. Here’s a look at those who left the Congress party:
The revolt of Jayaprakash Narayan from the Congress brought the first-non Congress government in India after 30 years of independence. Soon after the Emergency, the Janata Party was formed in January 1977 by JP. By March 1977, the first ever non-Congress government was formed at the Centre.
Despite being in the grand old party, Chandra Shekhar vehemently criticised former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for her declaration of Emergency in 1975. He was arrested and sent to prison during the Emergency. He too joined the Janata Party and became the President of the Janata Party.
Jagjivan Ram was not as lucky as many others before and after him. He was the youngest minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s interim government, the first cabinet of India and the member of the Constituent Assembly of India. He was a cabinet minister for several years. He remained a member of the Parliament right from the first election in 1952 till his death in 1986. When he quit the Congress in 1977, just weeks before the polls, he was the senior-most Minister in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet.
However, he could not become the Prime Minister, despite the switch. He served as the Deputy Prime Minister between 1977 and 79. In 1980, the Janata Party contested the polls with Jagjivan Ram as its Prime Ministerial candidate, but the party won only 31 seats out of 542.
India’s second Deputy Prime Minister quit the Congress during the split of 1969. Morarji Desai joined the INC(O). After the death of Nehru in 1964 and that of Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966, Desai emerged as a strong contender for the PM’s post. However, he could not get it and Indira Gandhi took the charge. In 1977, Desai was elected as the Prime Minister and became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India. In 1979, he was forced to resign as Raj Narain and Charan Singh left the Janata Party alliance. He retired from politics after that.
Patnaik was close to Indira Gandhi. However, they clashed in 1969. He left the Congress and formed a regional party—the Utkal Congress. He served as the Union Minister and Odisha CM.
In 1967, Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia resigned from the Congress and contested the Lok Sabha polls from Swatantra Party, which later merged into Bharatiya Lok Dal. Cut to 2020, her grandson Jyotiraditya Scindia resigned from the Congress and joined the BJP – a party co-founded by his grandmother.
In March 2020, Jyotiraditya joined the BJP along with his loyal MLAs. After being a part of the Congress since 2001, his switch led to the fall of the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh. The former Cabinet Minister under UPA II, Scindia was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh in 2020.
The West Bengal Chief Minister was with the Congress since 1970s till 1997. She left the party due to difference in political views with the then West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Somendra Nath Mitra. She floated her own party — the All India Trinamool Congress in 1998. The TMC is currently the fourth-largest party in the Lok Sabha with 20 seats and has gained the status of a national party. She won the 2011 Assembly polls and became the chief minister of West Bengal, ending 34-year rule of the Left. She is the second woman in India after Sheila Dikshit to run into third consecutive term as the CM.
Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy
In 2010, he quit the Congress and founded the YSR Congress Party in 2011. He is currently serving as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
Himanta Biswa Sarma
Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was with the Congress since the 1990s, joined the BJP in 2015. While he was a Cabinet Minister in the last government, he is currently the Chief Minister of Assam.
A Congress leader between 2005 and 2016, Pema Khanu quit the party to join the BJP. He is currently the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh.
She joined BJP in October 2016 after spending 24 years in Congress. She was elected to Lok Sabha in 2019.
N. Biren Singh
The Chief Minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh was with Congress during 2004 and 2016. He switched to BJP.
Leaders who returned to Congress
While several leaders quit the party and never returned no matter what their fate outside was, there were a number of leaders who came back to the Congress after a break.
Late Madhavrao quit the Congress party in 1996 after he was denied a Lok Sabha ticket. He rebelled and left the Congress to form the Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress (MPVC). He won the elections. However, the elections produced a hung Parliament. In 1998, he returned to the party, unlike his son and mother, and merged the MPVC with Congress and remained with the party until he died in 2001.
The former President too had left the Congress party after he felt sidelined under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi. Considering himself to be the rightful successor of Indira Gandhi, he rebelled and floated his own party in West Bengal in 1986 — the Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress. In 1989, the party merged with Congress after reaching a consensus with Rajiv Gandhi.
After having ideological differences with Nehru, she disassociated herself with her husband’s party. However, unlike her husband Acharya Kripalani, she re-joined Congress after a brief stint with the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party (KMPP) in 1952. Acharya Kripalani remained a critic of Nehru’s policies and administration while working for social and environmental causes.
Narayan Datt Tiwari, Arjun Singh, Natwar Singh and Rangarajan Kumaramangalam
The leaders floated the All India Indira Congress (Tiwari) in 1996. The party later merged with the Congress in 1998 when Sonia Gandhi took over the charge of the party.
The former Congress Jharkhand chief quit the party in 2019 and joined AAP. Within a year, in 2020, he came back to the Congress party.
The Arunachal Pradesh’s longest-serving Chief Minister started his political career in the early 1970s with Congress. After a brief stay with BJP in 2003, he returned to Congress. However, again in 2014, he quit Congress and re-joined the BJP.
Leaders who were expelled and survived in politics
Sharad Pawar, P Sangma and Tariq Anwar
In 1999, Sharad Pawar, Tariq Anwar and PA Sangma were expelled from the Congress for raising the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin. They floated the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Tariq Anwar re-joined the INC in 2018.
In 1988, he formed the Janata Dal party by merging various factions of the Janata Party. In the 1989 elections, the National Front, with the support of the BJP, formed the government and Singh became the seventh Prime Minister of India.
Ajit Jogi floated the Janta Congress Chhattisgarh party in 2016 after the former Chief Minister, along with his son, was expelled from the Congress due to anti-party activities. Jogi died in 2020.