Moderates v/s Extremists: Surat Split of 1907

Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal to weaken the idea of Nationalism. But the Partition of Bengal gave birth to the first mass movement of the India ie Swadeshi Movement. In reality Partition of Bengal though sown the seeds of communalism in India. But it also strengthened the nationalism in India.

So, in this scenario, government adopted the path of Divide and rule and made two victims of this policy,

  • Indian National Congress: Surat Split of 1907
  • Indian Society: Birth of Muslim League in 1906

Till 1907, both the moderates and extremists of Indian National Congress were fighting for the freedom under the same banner. But during the Swadeshi Movement, some conflict arose between these two groups. Here in this post, we will discuss Surat Split of Congress in brief.

Surat Split, 1907

Ideological Differences

Reason of Surat Split
Reason of Surat Split

The rift between Moderates and Extremists started with the appointment of Arun Del Commission in 1905. The commission was appointed to review the Partition of Bengal. According to Moderates, this was the outcome of the benevolent attitude of the British government. So, Moderates wanted to control the Swadeshi Movement and wanted to carry it on a limited scale.

Whereas the Extremists considered that coming of Arun Del Commission was the outcome of the pressure created by the Swadeshi Movement. So, they decided to take movement on a large scale or as an All India Movement. So, this was the ideological difference between extremists and moderates.

Struggle between Extremists and Moderates

Instead of fighting with the foreign power collectively, Moderates and Extremists started struggling among themselves. The rift turned into the struggle for the post of the presidential candidate of next session of Indian National Congress.

This was because of the reason that both the extremists and moderates were clear that the group which would succeed in having their presidential candidate would be able to implement its policy. So, to avoid the conflict Moderates declared Dada Bhai Naraoji as their presidential candidate.

There are few people in the world those are equally respected by the everyone like Swami Vivekananda, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Sir, Atal Bihari Vajpayee etc. So, as was the reputation of Dada Bhai Naraoji. He was equally respected by the extremists and moderates.

So, Extremists left the field. But in the Calcutta Session of Indian National Congress, 1906 extremists made four proposals,

  • The demand of Swaraj, here Swaraj meant self-rule.
  • Continuation of Swadeshi Movement.
  • National Education.
  • Passive Resistance.ย 

So, Extremists asked Dada Bhai Naraoji to implement it at all India level. Dada Bhai Naraoji turned the proposals for the next session of the Indian National Congress.

Surat Session of Indian National Congress/ Surat Split

The Moderate Ras Bihari Ghosh was the president of the Surat Session of the Indian National Congress in 1907. In Surat, Moderates once again succeeded in having their president. So, after this, they started neglecting the demands of extremists.

So, finally when the conflict between Pherozshah Mehta (Moderate) and Bal Gangadhar Tilak (Extremist) became so intense that it led to the split in Indian National Congress. This was Surat Split of 1907. After this the then Viceroy Lord Minto wrote to the Secretary of States Morley, โ€œSir we have wonโ€.

Though Britishers succeeded in dividing the Indian National Congress. But they were not able to eliminate the fir of nationalism from the people. The educated class of the 20th Century of India was pretty much aware of the British diplomacy. But they somehow became its victim.

The next step taken by the Britishers was to divide India on the basis of religion. So, the seed of communalism sown by Lord Curzon turned into a plant in 1906. The year 1906, in which Muslim League came into the scene. In the next coming post, we shall discuss Muslim League.

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