The Indian National Congress (1905-1914)

The Indian National Congress (1905-1914)

The agitation against the Partition of Bengal made a deep impact on the Indian National Congress. All sections of Congress united in opposing the partition. At its session of 1905, Gokhale, the President of the Congress, soundly condemned the Partition as well as the reactionary regime of Curzon. The Congress also supported the Swadeshi and Boycott movement of Bengal.

There was much public debate and disagreement between the moderate and the militant nationalists. While the latter wanted to extend the mass movement in Bengal as well as in the rest of the country, the Moderates wanted to confine the movement to Bengal. There was a tussle between the two groups for the presidentship of the National Congress in 1906. In the end, Dadabhai Naoroji, respected by all nationalists as a great patriot, was chosen as a compromise. Dadabhai openly declared in his presidential address that the goal of the Indian national movement was ‘self-government or Swaraj, as the colonies of Australia and Canada.

But the differences dividing the two wings of the nationalist movement rose again the next year. Many of the Moderate leaders did not keep pace with events and failed to see that their outlook and methods, which had served a real purpose in the past, were now obsolete. The Extremists, on the other hand, were not fully determined to capture the leadership of Congress. The split between the two came at the Surat session of the Congress in December 1907. The Moderate leaders captured the machinery of the Congress and expelled all the Extremists from it.

But, in the long run, the split did not prove useful to either group. The moderate leaders lost touch with the younger nationalists. The British Government played the game of ‘Divide and Rule’ and tried to win over moderate nationalist opinion so that the Extremists could be isolated and suppressed. To placate the moderate nationalists it announced constitutional concessions through the Indian Councils Act of 1909 which are known as the Morely-Minto Reforms. In 1911, the Government also announced the cancellation of the Partition of Bengal. The two halves of Bengal were to be reunited while a new province consisting of Bihar and Orissa was to be created. At the same time, the seat of the Central Government was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.

Reforms During INC

Though the moderate nationalists did not fully support the Minto-Morley Reforms as it passed on very little power to the Indians, they decided to cooperate with the Government in working the reforms. This cooperation with the Government and their opposition to the Extremist programme proved very costly to them. They gradually lost the respect and support of the public and were reduced to a small political group. The vast majority of the politically conscious Indians continued to support, though passively, Lokamanya Tilak and the militant nationalists. 

Check out History of India notes in detail. 

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