Lucknow Session of the Indian National Congress—1916

Lucknow Session of Congress in 1916 was the 31st Session of the INC. Ambica Charan Majumdar was the president of the Lucknow Session of Congress. Jinnah who was then a member of both the parties played a key role in Unification of Muslim League and Congress. Due to Jinnah's efforts for unification of League and Congress, Sarojini Naidu, awarded him with the title of Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity. It was also due to the efforts of Tilak and Annie Besant this agreement between the Congress and the League came into picture, although this was much against the wishes of many important nationalist leaders, like Madan Mohan Malaviya.

Significance of Lucknow Session of Congress

  • After a lapse of about 10 years (since the Surat Split), both the Moderates and Extremists were united.
  • In the Lucknow session, the Congress and the Muslim League signed the Lucknow Pact and build political consensus.

Causes for the Reunification of Congress and Muslim League, and further unity among the two factions of the Congress

  • The partition of Bengal and its subsequent annulment in 1911 drew the Muslims closer to the Hindus.
  • Muslim leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, M.N. Ansari,Mohammed Ali, had the Pan-Islamic sentiment which triggered them to side with the Indian National Congress.
  • Muslim League in 1912 at Calcutta, made a change in its constitution which led the Muslim League to work with other organizations for the protection of the interests of the Muslims. Therefore, Muslim League came closer to the Congress for the protection of their own interests too.
  • In its Lucknow session in 1913, Muslim League also adopted the demand of self-government, what the Extremist leader of congress like Bal Gangadhar Tilak were also demanding. Thus, later an alliance between Muslim League and Congress emerged during Lucknow Session of Congress in 1916.
  • During First World War, Indian Soldiers were fighting along with British against the Ottoman Empire and Indian Muslim saw the Sultan as the Caliph of Islam and fighting against him displeased them.
  • Lord Chelmsford had invited suggestions for the next round of reform which was supposed to come after the end of the war, so in order to get a better share Muslim league also focussed on unification.
  • The demise of the Moderate leaders like Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Feroz Shah Mehta reduced the opposition for amalgamation of the factions of Congress (Extremists and Moderates) and this paved the way for Tilak and Annie Besant to dominate the Congress.

Lucknow Pact 1916

Lucknow Pact was an agreement which held in Lucknow, in 1916 at the joint session of both the parties (Muslim League and the Indian National Congress). According to the pact, the Congress and the League agreed to join their efforts in order to get their political aspirations fulfilled.

Provisions of Lucknow Pact 1916

  • A majority of the members of the Legislative Councils to be elected.
  • At least half the seats to be filled by Indians, in the Viceroy's Executive Council.
  • The provinces should be free as much as possible from the control of Central Governments in matters of finance and administration.
  • Separate electorates should be provided for all the communities until they ask for joint electorate.
  • Provision for the separation of judiciary from the executive.
  • In case of minority political representation, a system of weightage to be adopted in which minorities were to be given more representation in the government than proportional to their share in the population.
  • Legislative Council term to be 5 years and the strength of the Central Legislative Council to be increased to 150.
  • 4/5 of the Central and Legislative (Provincial) should be elected and 1/5 to be nominated.
  • The salaries of the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs not to be paid from Indian funds rather it has to be paid by the British government from their own funds.
  • The relations of the secretary with the Government of India should be similar to those of the colonial Secretary with the Governments of the Dominion.

Critical Evaluation of Lucknow Pact 1916

  • It was based on the perception of bringing together the educated Hindus and Muslims as separate political entities without secularization of their political views and most importantly it did not involve Hindu and Muslim masses.
  • As the Hindu-Muslim masses were not involved the Lucknow pact of 1916 therefore left the way open to the future revival of communalism in India.

Results of Lucknow Session of Congress

  • The unity between the two factions of the congress (i.e. Moderates & Extremists), and between Congress & Muslim League during the Lucknow Session of Congress, aroused great political enthusiasm in the country.
  • Lucknow pact paved the way for Hindu-Muslim cooperation in the Khilafat movement (Agitation of Indian Muslims to preserve the authority of Ottoman Sultan as a Caliph of Islam) and Non-Cooperation movement from 1920.
  • Communal politics in India was formally established with the agreement between the parties on a separate communal electorate. The demand of Muslim League for communal Electorate recognized by the INC ultimately led to the partition of India in 1947.
  • According to the Lucknow pact of 1916, any legislature would not work if more than 3/4th member of any religion were against such resolution, acceptance of such proposal led to the introduction of a kind of communal veto in legislature.
  • The Lucknow Pact, enhanced the League's power in Indian politics.

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