Ideological Basis of the Moderate - Extremist divide in the Indian National Congress

IAS Mains General Studies Sample Answer

Bring out the ideological basis of the Moderate – Extremist divide in the Indian National Congress.

During the first phase of the freedom struggle (1885-1905) the congress programmed was very moderate. The moderates strongly believed in the essential sense of justice and the goodness of the British nation and followed the policy of gradualism and constitutionalism. Thus they followed the 3 Ps Policies of prayer, petition and protest. It demanded mild constitutional reforms, economic relief, administrative reorganization and protection of civil rights.

Other demands include the organisation of the provincial councils, simultaneous holding of examinations for the ICS in India and England. However the leaders were cautious in their demands. They didn’t want to annoy govt. and incur the risk of suppression.

During this period, a general impression grew that the moderates were political mendicants only. And against it a sepate viewpoint was gradually been growing though invisibly. The gap between the masses and the anglicized leaders was bridged by the leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurbindo Ghosh, B.G. Tilak etc. who took inspiration from traditional cultural values and were ardent nationalists who wanted to have relations with other countries in terms of equality and self respect. The basic cause of rise of extremism was recognition of true exploitative nature of British rule in India.

Dissatisfaction with achievements of the congress under moderate leadership. Contemporary international influences, nationalist movement in Egypt, Turkey, Persia and Russia, Japan’s victory over Russia were source of new hopes and new aspirations.

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