Methods of Political work of the Early Moderates

Methods of Political work of moderate phase 1885 to 1905

The early nationalists of Indian National Congress who are mainly active during the early moderate phase 1885 to 1995 came to be known as moderates. The Nationalist leaders mainly belonged to the educated middle class who wear lawyers, teachers or government officials etc. They were known as moderates due to their belief in gradual reforms through peaceful and constitutional means. The later nationalists of the early 20th century after 1905 onwards demanded self rule or Swaraj and believed in direct methods like strikes, boycotts, hartals and passive resistance etc and hence were known as extremists.

The prominent moderate leaders were Dadabhai Naoroji, Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, Phirozshah Mehta, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Gopal Krishna Gokhale etc. Their approach was within the lawful and constitutional agitations, through a slow political process. The moderates had faith in the British and believed that British rule was beneficial for India. Surendranath Banerjee called British rule as the blessing in disguise. The moderates believed that in the real problem was that the British were not aware of the real situation, and they have to make them aware through constitutional means.

They used two measure strategies to achieve their goals. Firstly to make strong public opinions on common political and general issues of India to make their position strong. Secondly to convince the British government and public for gradual reforms in government services and on general administrative issues of public welfare. Their methodology can be summed up as 3 ‘P’s - prayers, petitions, and protests. They used annual Congress sessions to discuss government policies and laws. They passed resolutions for the reforms in these Congress sessions with the ultimate aim of creating a strong public opinion on various issues.

Moderate nationalists used the press, journals, and literature to discuss and criticize government policies and actions. The newspapers like Bombay chronicle, the Bengali, and English newspapers like Hindustan Times, Nationalist weekly etc were used to promote National is propaganda. Britishers become highly critical of Congress and called the Congress members as the self appointed people who represent only the microscopic minority of India. The moderates held meetings and gave speeches in various parts of the country to garner public support.

In 1899, to gather support in Britain the moderates established a British committee of Indian National Congress in London. Dadabhai Naoroji played a major role to gather support for India's cause in Britain. A session of Indian National Congress was planned to be held in Britain in 1892, but it was canceled due to elections in Britain.

Moderates believed that the time is not right to directly challenge the British rule. Therefore they should try to bring constitutional reforms for the betterment of India. As Gopal Krishna Gokhle said that at this stage of history their failures are bound to be big and achievements small. It is through these failures they will gradually move towards success in the future national movements. The later extremist nationalists adopted vigorous direct methods like strikes, hartals, boycott of foreign goods passive resistance etc to achieve their goals. They encouraged the participation of masses which totally changed the course of the national movement from 1905 onwards which was visible after the partition of Bengal and later in during Swadeshi movement.

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