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Great non-moderate or assertive leaders of Indian National Movement: Lal- Bal- Pal

The Indian National Congress(INC) which was established in 1885 by A.O Hume was divided into two groups(in the year 1907) mainly by extremists and moderates at the Surat Session of the Congress.The period 1885-1905 was known as the period of the moderates as moderates dominated the Indian National Congress. These Moderates used petition, prayers, meetings, leaflets and pamphlets memorandum and delegations to present their demands in front of the British government. Moderates were not able to achieve notable goals other than the expansion of the legislative council by the Indian Council Act of 1892. This created dissatisfaction among the people. In 1907 the INC meeting was to be held in Nagpur and the extremists wanted Lala Lajpat Rai or Bal Gangadhar Tilak as president. But moderates wanted Rash Behari Ghosh to be president. Gopal Krishna Gokhale changed the meeting place from Nagpur to Surat fearing that if Nagpur was to be held as meeting place then Bal Gangadhar Tilak would become President. The partition of Bengal became the rise of extremism in INC. In Surat Congress a great split between the moderate and assertive nationalist leaders was seen. The main moderate leaders of the Indian national movement included among others, Dadabhai Naoroji, R.C.Dutt, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, S.N.Banerjee and.A.O.Hume. On the other hand the main extremist or assertive leaders of the movement included great names like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal and (Lal, Bal, Pal). Both the groups contributed to the cause of freedom struggle in their own manners.

The Early Nationalists were known as the Moderates. Moderate political leaders in India, who were active between 1885 and 1905, were mostly drawn from educated middle-class professionals including lawyers, teachers and government officials, many of them were educated in England. They have become known as “Early Nationalists” because they believed in demanding reforms while adopting constitutional and peaceful means to achieve their aims. The Early Nationalists had full faith in the British sense of justice, fair play, honesty, and integrity while they believed that British rule was a boon for India. The Early Nationalists were staunch believers in open-minded and moderate politics.

When the method of moderate leaders was not indicating any immediate sign of the British intention of giving right to self determination and freedom to India, a group of people came forward with more assertive and pro-active methods fro winning freedom for India. Their period existed from 1905 to 1919. When Mahatma Gandhi came to India and assumed leadership for freedom movement, both the groups –moderates and extremist or assertive leaders- continued to contribute to freedom movement during the Gandhian era, which existed from 1919 until Indian Independence in 1947.

Although moderates or early nationalists were able to politicize Indian people and highlight the highhandedness and injustices of the British rulers, they failed to achieve any tangible results. This was one of the reasons of frustration and anger among large number of people and political leaders in India. and thus what was born in the ranks of leadership was a lot more assertive group of leaders, traditionally referred to as “extremist” leaders, the words which many think should not be used. They feel that they should be described only as “nationalist leaders” without any derogatory adjective.

The contribution of Moderates

However, the achievements of the moderates or early nationalists cannot be overlooked. They created a national awakening among the people that made Indians conscious of the bonds of common political, economic, and cultural interests that united them, They also trained people in politics by popularising the ideas of democracy, civil liberties, secularism and nationalism .The Early Nationalists did pioneering work by exposing the true nature of British rule in India. They made the people realise the economic content and character of British imperialism. In doing so, they weakened the foundations of British rule in India. Their political and economic programmes established the idea that India must be ruled in the interest of the Indians. The efforts of the Early Nationalists also led to the implementation of various social reforms such as the appointment of a Public Service Commission. A resolution of the House of Commons (1893) allowing for simultaneous examination for the Indian Civil Service in London and India and appointment of the Welby Commission on Indian Expenditure (1895). They also passed The Indian Councils Act of 1892. These achievements served as the basis for nationalist movements in later years by extremist leaders. The differences between the moderates and the extremists became official in the Surat session of the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1907.

Surat Split

The differences between the moderates and the extremists became official in the Surat session of the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1907. The meeting was to take place in Nagpur that year. The extremists wanted Lala Lajpat Rai or Bal Gangadhar Tilak to be the President. But the moderates wanted Rash Behari Ghosh as President. There was a rule that the session’s President could not be from the home province. Tilak’s home province was Bombay Presidency in which Surat was also situated. So, the moderates changed the venue to Surat so that Tilak could be excluded from the presidency. The moderates also wanted to drop the resolutions on swadeshi, boycott movements and national education. Rash Behari Ghosh became the president in the session which was held at Surat. Tilak was not even allowed to speak and this angered the extremists, who wanted to cancel the session. Both sides were firm on their demands and neither was willing to find a common path. The moderates then held a separate meeting in which they reiterated the Congress goal of self-government within the British Empire and to adopt only constitutional methods to achieve their goals.

Lucknow Pact

Lucknow Pact, (December 1916), agreement made by the Indian National Congress headed by Maratha leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the All-India Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah; it was adopted by the Congress at its Lucknow session on December 29 and by the league on Dec. 31, 1916. The meeting at Lucknow marked the reunion of the moderate and radical wings of the Congress. The pact dealt both with the structure of the government of India and with the relation of the Hindu and Muslim communities.

On the former count, the proposals were an advance on Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s “political testament.” Four-fifths of the provincial and central legislatures were to be elected on a broad franchise, and half the executive council members, including those of the central executive council, were to be Indians elected by the councils themselves. Except for the provision for the central executive, these proposals were largely embodied in the Government of India Act of 1919. The Congress also agreed to separate electorates for Muslims in provincial council elections and for weightage in their favour (beyond the proportions indicated by population) in all provinces except the Punjab and Bengal, where they gave some ground to the Hindu and Sikh minorities. This pact paved the way for Hindu-Muslim cooperation in the Khilafat movement and Mohandas Gandhi’s noncooperation movement from 1920.

Lal- Bal-Pal- Here is a description of the architects of assertive Indian National Movement

Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai (28 January 1865 – 17 November 1928) was a great Indian freedom fighter. He played a pivotal role in the Indian Independence movement. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari. He was one third of the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate. He was also associated with activities of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages in 1894. Lajpat Rai was born on 28 January 1865 in a Hindu Aggarwal family, as a son of Urdu and Persian government school teacher Munshi Radha Krishan Agrawal and his wife Gulab Devi Agrawal, in Dhudike (now in Moga district, Punjab). In 1877, he was married to Radha Devi Agrawal, with whom had two sons, Amrit Rai Agrawal and Pyarelal Agrawal, and a daughter, Parvati Agrawal. In 1884, his father was transferred to Rohtak and Rai came along after the completion of his studies at Lahore. In 1886, he moved to Hisar where his father was transferred, and started to practice law and became founding member of Bar council of Hisar along with Babu Churamani. Since childhood he also had a desire to serve his country and therefore took a pledge to free it from foreign rule, in the same year he also founded the Hisar district branch of the Indian National Congress and reformist Arya Samaj with other like minded people. After joining the Indian National Congress and taking part in political agitation in Punjab, Lala Lajpat Rai was deported to Mandalay, Burma (now Myanmar), without trial in May 1907. In November, however, he was allowed to return when the viceroy, Lord Minto, decided that there was insufficient evidence to hold him for subversion. Lajpat Rai’s supporters attempted to secure his election to the presidency of the party session at Surat in December 1907, but he did not succeed. Graduates of the National College, which he founded inside the Bradlaugh Hall at Lahore as an alternative to British institutions, included Bhagat Singh. He was elected President of the Indian National Congress in the Calcutta Special Session of 1920. In 1921, he founded Servants of the People Society, a non-profit welfare organisation, in Lahore, which shifted its base to Delhi after partition, and has branches in many parts of India. In 1928, the British government set up the Commission, headed by Sir John Simon, to report on the political situation in India. The Indian political parties boycotted the Commission, because it did not include a single Indian in its membership, and it met with country-wide protests. When the Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lajpat Rai led non-violent march in protest against it. The protest was with the words “Simon go back” and black flags. The superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the police to lathi (baton) charge the protesters and personally assaulted Rai. Despite being extremely injured, Rai subsequently addressed the crowd and said, “I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India”.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak (or Lokmanya Tilak; 23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920), born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak, was a great nationalist, teacher, lawyer and an independence activist. He is considered by many as the first leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities called him “The father of the Indian unrest.” He was also conferred with the title of “Lokmanya”, which means “accepted by the people (as their leader)”. Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of Swaraj (“self-rule”) and a strong radical in Indian consciousness. He is known for his quote in Marathi: “Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it!”. He formed a close alliance with many Indian National Congress leaders including Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Tilak opposed the moderate views of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and was supported by fellow Indian nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. They were referred to as the “Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate”. In 1907, the annual session of the Congress Party was held at Surat, Gujarat. Trouble broke out over the selection of the new president of the Congress between the moderate and the radical sections of the party . The party split into the radicals faction, led by Tilak, Pal and Lajpat Rai, and the moderate faction. Nationalists like Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai were Tilak supporters. During his lifetime among other political cases, Bal Gangadhar Tilak had been tried for Sedition Charges in three times by British India Government—in 1897, 1909,[ and 1916. In 1897, Tilak was sentenced to 18 months in prison for preaching disaffection against the Raj. In 1909, he was again charged with sedition and intensifying racial animosity between Indians and the British. The Bombay lawyer Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Tilak’s defence could not annul the evidence in Tilak’s polemical articles and Tilak was sentenced to six years in prison in Burma. On 30 April 1908, two Bengali youths, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, threw a bomb on a carriage at Muzzafarpur, to kill the Chief Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford of Calcutta fame, but erroneously killed two women traveling in it. While Chaki committed suicide when caught, Bose was hanged. Tilak, in his paper Kesari, defended the revolutionaries and called for immediate Swaraj or self-rule. The Government swiftly charged him with sedition. At the conclusion of the trial, a special jury convicted him by 7:2 majority. In passing sentence, the judge indulged in some scathing strictures against Tilak’s conduct. He threw off the judicial restraint which, to some extent, was observable in his charge to the jury. He condemned the articles as “seething with sedition”, as preaching violence, speaking of murders with approval. “You hail the advent of the bomb in India as if something had come to India for its good. I say, such journalism is a curse to the country”. Tilak was sent to Mandalay from 1908 to 1914. Later, Tilak re-united with his fellow nationalists and re-joined the Indian National Congress in 1916. He also helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916–18, with G. S. Khaparde and Annie Besant. After years of trying to reunite the moderate and radical factions, he gave up and focused on the Home Rule League, which sought self-rule. Tilak travelled from village to village for support from farmers and locals to join the movement towards self-rule. Tilak was impressed by the Russian Revolution, and expressed his admiration for Vladimir Lenin. The league had 1400 members in April 1916, and by 1917 membership had grown to approximately 32,000. Tilak started his Home Rule League in Maharashtra, Central Provinces, and Karnataka and Berar region. Besant’s League was active in the rest part of India. Tilak said, “I regard India as my Motherland and my Goddess, the people in India are my kith and kin, and loyal and steadfast work for their political and social emancipation is my highest religion and duty”. The Deccan Education Society that Tilak founded with others in the 1880s still runs Institutions in Pune like the Fergusson College.

Bipin Chandra Pal

Bipin Chandra Pal (7 November 1858 – 20 May 1932) was a great Indian nationalist, a freedom fighter, writer, orator and social reformer of Sylheti origin. He was one of the main architects of the Swadeshi movement. He stood against the partition of Bengal. Bipin Chandra Pal was born in the village of Poil, Habiganj, Sylhet, Bengal Presidency of British India, in a Hindu Bengali Kayastha Vaishnava family. Pal is known as the ‘Father of Revolutionary Thoughts’ in India and was one of the freedom fighters of India. Pal became a major leader of the Indian National Congress. At the Madras session of congress held in 1887, Bipin Chandra Pal made a strong plea for repeal of the Arms Act which was discriminatory in nature. Along with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak he belonged to the Lal, Bal, Pal trio that was associated with revolutionary activity. Aurobindo Ghosh and Pal were recognised as the chief exponents of a new national movement revolving around the ideals of Purna Swaraj, Swadeshi, boycott and national education. His programme consisted of Swadeshi, Boycott and national education. He preached and encouraged the use of Swadeshi and the Boycott of foreign goods to eradicate poverty and unemployment. He wanted to remove social evils from the form and arouse the feelings of nationalism through national criticism. He had no faith in mild protests in the form of Non-Cooperation with the British colonialists. On that one issue, the Assertive nationalist leader had nothing common with Mahatma Gandhi. During last six years of his life he parted company with the Congress and led a secluded life. Sri Aurobindo referred to him as one of mightiest prophets of Nationalism. As a journalist, Pal worked for Bengal Public Opinion, The Tribune and New India, where he propagated his brand of nationalism. He wrote several articles warning India of the changes happening in China and other geopolitical situations. In one of his writings, describing where the future danger for India will come from, Pal wrote under the title “Our Real Danger”. The most prominent books of Pal include Indian Nationalism, Nationality and Empire, Swaraj and the Present Situation, The Basis of Social Reform, The Soul of India.

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