Monday, August 22, 2011

Surat Split to Lucknow Pact

The Story of Ideological differences in  Indian National Movement  from the Surat Split to Lucknow Pact. Taking u into the  battle for "Swaraj" and "Swadeshi"

Efforts put up by Dadabhai Nowroji to avert the split

Matters nearly came to a head at the Calcutta Congress in 1906 over the question of its Presidentship. A split was avoided by choosing Dadabhai Naoroji, who was respected by all the nationalists as a great patriot. Four compromise resolutions on the Swadeshi, Boycott, National Education and Self-Government demands were passed. Throughout 1907 the two sides fought over different interpretations of the four resolutions. By the end of 1907, they were looking over eachother as their main political enemy. 

Immediate cause of the split-- Over question of its Presidentship !

In 1907, there was a split in the Congress and the Moderates parted company with the Extremists. The split created a gulf between the Extremists and the Moderates.
The Congress session was held on 26 December, 1907 at Surat, on the banks of the river Tapti. The extremists were excited by the romours that the Moderates wanted to scuttle the four Calcutta resolutions. The Moderates were deeply heart by the ridicule and venom poured on them in mass meetings held at Surat on the previous three days. The delegates, thus, met in an atmosphere surcharged with excitement and anger. 

Taking u to the actual scene-- To force the Moderates to guarantee that the four resolutions would be passed, the extremists decided to object to the duly elected President for the year, Rash Behari Ghose. Both sides came to the session prepared for a confrontation. In no time, the 1600 delegates were shouting coming to blows and hurling chairs at eachother. In the meantime some unknown person hurled a shoe at the dias which hit Pherozeshah Mehta and Surendranath Banerjea. The police came and cleared the hall. The Congress session was over and the only victorious party at the end of the day were the rulers.

TIlak realized that what was going was wrong
Tilak had seen the coming danger and made last minute efforts to avoid it. But he was helpless before his followers. The suddenness of Surat fiasco took Tilak by surprise. He now tried to undo the damage. He sent a virtual letter of regret to his opponents, accepted Rash Behari Ghose as the President of the Congress and offered his cooperation in working for Congress unity. But Pherozeshah Mehta and his colleagues won't relent. They thought they were on a sure wicket. The Government immediately launched a massive attack on the extremists. Extremist newspaper were suppressed. Tilak, their main leader, was sent to Mandalay jail for six years. Aurobindo Ghose, their ideologue, was involved in a revolutionary conspiracy case and immediately after being judged innocent left politics and settled down in French Pondicherry and took up religion. B.C. Pal temporarily retired from politics and Lala Lajpat Rai left for Britain in 1908.


such as Gokhale (President of the Congress in 1905) while cognizant of how "deplorable" Britain's industrial domination of India was, and how the economic drain from India to Britain was "bleeding India", were nevertheless all praise for the British educational system in India, ascribing to the British the virtues of introducing liberal "social reforms", governmental "peace and order" and such modern conveniences as the railways, post and telegraphs, and new industrial appliances. (That all these things benefited a miniscule Indian elite did not appear to bother such admirers of the empire, nor did it occur to them that this and much more could have just as easily been achieved under self-rule.)

Difference between Tilak and Gokhale and how ordinary looked at the entire scenario !

Gokhale, too, saw the dangers of a split in the nationalist ranks and tried to avoid it. But he did not have the personality to stand upto a willful autocrat like Pherozeshah Mehta. He, too, knuckled under pressure. 

Tilak and Gokhale were clearly seeing Indian reality from very different vantage points. From the point of view of the ordinary masses, British rule had already bankrupted the nation, left intolerable misery in it's wake, and offered no hope for the future. Tilak's assessment of the situation reflected bleak reality - as experienced not only by the oppressed and downtrodden Indian masses, but by an overwhelming majority of all Indians. But Gokhale's ambivalence and his more cautiously expressed (though clearly articulated) concerns reflected the position of those who had at least partially shared in the spoils of the empire, but saw with some trepidation how the growing poverty of the nation might unravel the British empire. Reluctant to make common cause with the masses, "moderates" such as Gokhale did everything in their power to restrain the growing national movement - even branding Tilak and his allies as "extremists".

The Congress who under the leadership of Dadabhai Naoroji had accepted the demands put forth by the Tilak group for Swaraj, Swadeshi and National Education in 1906, reneged on it's previous position, and at it's Surat session in 1907 decided to limit the struggle to a "constitutional manner". "Swaraj" was reinterpreted to mean "self-rule" as a colony, and rather than fighting the colonial power, the Congress decided to cooperate with it in effecting "reforms". A motion to elect Tilak (who was unquestionably the most popular leader of the national-liberation movement) was turned down, as was a compromise motion to elect Lala Lajpat Rai. The triumph of the "moderate" wing was total and complete. Gokhale's "moderate nationalism" which was simply another face of loyalism succeeded to the utter exclusion of all the popular forces aligned with Tilak, and returned the Congress to a broadly loyalist track.

Entry of MK Gandhi

By 1914, the Congress had so deteriorated that a majority of it's members failed to admonish the young Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi when he embarked on a campaign to seek volunteers for the British war efforts in World War I. The man who was to repeatedly chastise the Indian masses for being insufficiently "non-violent", had in 1914, no compunctions in seeking sacrificial lambs for a war in which India's only interest should have been for the defeat of it's colonial master. But Gandhi, who had been born the son of the Prime Minister of the princely state of Rajkot in Kathiawar, was simply following the lead of the Indian Maharajas, such as that of Bikaner - who needed little prodding in offering his troops for a war that essentially pitted Europe's older and stronger imperial powers against their emerging rivals.

Unsurprisingly, it was to Gokhale that the young Gandhi looked for inspiration, not Tilak. But others recognized his pre-eminent role in giving new direction and leadership to the Indian freedom movement. Nehru pointed out that the "real symbol of the new age was Bal Gangadhar Tilak", and recognized that "the vast majority of politically-minded people in India favored Tilak and his group". 

Failures of Moderates

They lacked faith in the common people, did not work among them and consequently failed to acquire any roots among them. Even their propaganda did not reach them. Nor did they organize any all-India campaigns and when, during 1905-07, such an all-India campaign did come up in the form of the Swadeshi and Boycott Movement, they were not its leaders. Their politics was based on the assumption that they would be able to persuade the rulers to introduce economic and political reforms but their practical achievement in this field was meager. Instead of respecting them for their moderation British treated them with contempt.


This is where the seeds of extremism were bowed

After the defeat of 1858, one of the most significant challenges to British imperial authority in India had appeared in the form of Vasudeo Balvant Phadke's revolt of 1879, and amongst his many youthful followers and trainees in Pune was the young Tilak. Along with Chiplunkar, Agarkar and Namjoshi, Tilak initially concentrated on launching a nationalist weekly - the Kesari (1881), the publishing house - Kitabkhana, and developing Indian educational institutions such as the Deccan Education Society (1884). Tilak and his friends saw the right kind of education as being a crucial element in the task of national regeneration, and in this respect appeared to be continuing in the tradition of Jyotirao Phule (1827-1890) and Gopalrao Deshmukh (1823-1892) who was more known by his pen-name 'Lokahitwadi' .

Faces of Extremism


Most charismatic amongst the new national leaders was Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Portrayed as anti-Muslim by the Muslim-League, maligned by India's colonial rulers and British loyalists as an "extremist", and misrepresented as a sectarian Hindu revivalist by some historians, Tilak was in fact, one of the leading lights of the Indian freedom movement. Best remembered for his slogan "Swaraj is my birth-right ", he was one of the first to call for complete freedom from British rule, and fought a long and sometimes lonely political struggle against the forces of "moderation" that held sway over the Indian National Congress in the early part of the last century.

Ajit Singh
In Punjab, the polarization was especially sharp. The boycott movement had struck deep roots within the peasantry, and made it difficult for British troops to find porters and other logistical help from the poor peasants. Roused by calls to protest the British land revenue policy, Sikh and Jat agricultural workers were becoming strongly politicized. In a rousing speech, Tilak's close associate in Punjab, Ajit Singh made a secular appeal to the masses of Punjab to rise against the British: "Hindu brothers, Mohammedan brothers, Sepahi brothers - we are all one. The government is not even dust before us....What have you got to fear? ....Our numbers are much greater. True they have guns, but we have fists...You are dying from the plague and other diseases, so better sacrifice yourselves to your motherland. Our strength lies in unity..."

Lal –Bal –Pal

The ‘extremist’ group was known as ‘Lal’, ‘Bal’ and ‘Pal’, after  Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. Besides advocating swadeshi movement, they also advocated a total boycott amounting to non-coperation and non-payment of taxes. ‘Lal’ and ‘Bal’ were deported to Mandalay in Burma. Tilak’s trial for incitement bought Bombay’s industries to a standstill and his 6 year sentence bought the troops into the street and there were 16 deaths. Sitting in a prison in Mandalay, Tilak wrote his commentary on the Bagavad Gita.

Lala Lajpat Rai(1865-1928). The Punjab Kesari was an orator author publisher of many publications which inspired the people to fight for the country’s cause.

Bipin Chandra Pal (1858-1932) A teacher, orator and a journalist who opposed the
Partition of Bengal as a colonial policy of Lord Curzon to crack down on the growing
influence of the people against British Raj.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak.(1856-1920) “Swaraj is my Birth-right and I shall have it.”
An extremist and a hard line policy believer had many difference of opinion with Gopal Krishna Gokhle but was very effective to lead people towards self-rule.

Subrahmanya Bharathy and VO Chidambaram Pillai also supported extremist ideology. Subrahmanya Bharathy was a prodigious Tamil poet and writer and is often regarded as the "national poet of Tami Nadu".

Some  events which took place !

By 1905, popular resistance movements had developed in both Bengal and Maharashtra, calling for the boycott of British goods and non-payment of land revenues and other taxes.

1906 - The Extremists wanted to extend their gains, the Moderates to recover their lost ground. As in 1906, the most contentious issue was selecting the session's president. The Extremists again promoted Tilak; the Moderates were determined to block him. The session was scheduled to be held in Nagpur, which the Moderates thought a safe site. But local Extremists managed to intimidate the Moderate reception committee chairman, who feared Tilak might be elected.

On May 1, 1907, a spontaneous outburst of popular discontent shook the British administration in Rawalpindi when seething crowds, reinforced by striking workers marched through the streets - throwing mud and stones at passing Britishers, attacking government offices, cottages of Christian missionaries, British enterprises and commercial establishments. Although the uprising was effectively quelled by a large contingent of British troops who were close at hand, it shook the colonial administration enough to hastily evacuate families of colonial officials and military officers from Punjab, and extend term of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, Lord Kitchener. The colonial police and troops were also ruthless in crushing such uprisings in Lahore and Amritsar. Ajit Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai were summarily deported to Burma, without trial or right of appeal. Arrests and persecution of other patriots followed, and a state of emergency was declared in a number of Punjab districts.

In 1908, uprisings on a similiar scale broke out in the South, in Trivandrum, Tirunelveli, and Tuticorin. In Trivandrum, police stations were attacked, prisoners liberated, and offices of the repressive colonial state were set on fire. When Chidambaram Pillay, another important Tilak ally was put on trial, he refused to disown his national goals, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1916, The Lucknow Pact - Reunion of Moderates and Extremists

The Lucknow Pact, on the other hand, was an important landmark in India's struggle for freedom as it brought the Extremist and Moderate sections of Indian National Congress together under one common interest for obtaining self-rule for the Indians.

The Congress and the Muslim League also came together to fight for self-rule.

 Mahatma Gandhi emerged as a national leader. He advocated the use of 'satyagraha' to fight the British. His social agenda included the removal of untouchability, the revival of village crafts and the popularization of charkha and khadi.

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