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Published by: jd_sweetu on Jun 15, 2012
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The history of the Indian National Congress falls into two distinct eras:

The pre-independence era, when the party was at the forefront of the struggle for independence and was instrumental in the whole of India; The post-independence era, when the party has enjoyed a prominent place in Indian politics, ruling the country for 48 of the 60 years since independence in 1947.

In the pre-independence era, the Congress was divided in two groups, moderate and activist. The moderates were more educated and wanted to win people's faith to lead the nation to independence without bloodshed; the activists however wanted to follow a revolutionary path and make it a militant organization.[citation needed]

The pre-independence era

First session of Indian National Congress, Bombay, 28-31, December, 1885.

Main article: Indian National Congress - Freedom Era

The Congress was founded by Indian and British members of the Theosophical Society movement, most notably A.O. Hume.[6] It has been suggested that the idea was originally conceived in a private meeting of seventeen men after a Theosophical Convention held at Madras in December 1884. Hume took the initiative, and it was in March 1885 that the first notice was issued convening the first Indian National Union to meet at Poona the following December.[8] Founded in 1885 with the objective of obtaining a greater share in government for educated Indians, the Indian National Congress was initially not opposed to British rule. The Congress met once a year during December. Indeed, it was a Scotsman, Allan Octavian Hume, who brought about its first meeting in Bombay, with the approval of Lord Dufferin, the then-Viceroy. Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee was the first President of the INC. The first meeting was scheduled to be held in Pune, but due to a plague outbreak there, the meeting was later shifted to Bombay. The first session of the INC was held from 28–31 December 1885, and was attended by 72 delegates. Within a few years, the demands of the INC became more radical in the face of constant opposition from the government, and the party became very active in the independence movement. By 1907 the party was split into two halves—the Garam Dal (literally "hot faction") ofBal Gangadhar Tilak, or Extremists, and the Naram Dal (literally "soft faction") of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, or Moderates—distinguished by their attitude towards the British.

Under the influence of Tilak, the Congress became the first integrated mass organization in the country, bringing together millions of people against the British. The Indian National Congress was the only political party to provide harmony to all the sects of the Indian society.[citation needed] In the pre-independence era, the INC featured a number of prominent political figures: Dadabhai Naoroji, a member of the sister Indian National Association, elected president of the Congress in 1886, and between 1892 and 1895 the first Indian Member of Parliament in theBritish House of Commons; Bal Gangadhar Tilak; Bipin Chandra Pal; Lala Lajpat Rai; Gopal Krishna Gokhale; and Mohammed Ali Jinnah, later leader of the Muslim League and instrumental in the creation of Pakistan. The Congress was transformed into a mass movement by Surendranath Banerjea and Sir Henry Cotton during the partition of Bengal in 1905 and the resultant Swadeshi movement.Mohandas Gandhi returned from South Africa in 1915 and with the help of the moderate group led by Ghokhale became president of the Congress and formed an alliance with the Khilafat movement. In protest a number of leaders—Chittaranjan Das, Annie Besant, Motilal Nehru— resigned from the Congress to set up the Swaraj Party. The Khilafat movement collapsed and the Congress was split.

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