History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2014: Q.3 (a)
Q.3 (a) “Politics remained for the bulk of the Moderates very much a part-time affair. The Congress was not a political party, but an annual three-day show…” Elucidate.
The early phase of the politics of Congress is called the moderate phase. Moderate leaders of early phase of Congress believed in the Constitutional way of agitation. They took rexourse to making appeal, sending applications and petitions, holding meetings, organizing lublic opinion, propaganda through press etc. Their objective was not independence but reform under the British rule. They were criticised for their objectives, methods and style of functioning.
Even this politics of what extremist leaders described as mendicancy wre tried out in a rather intemittent manner. Congress was hardly a political party and it was more in the nature of an annual conference, which deliberated and adopted resolutions during their three days of get together in congress sessions at various places.
This was because of the method and social composition of the early Congress and the participants. The moderate leaders tended to be Anglicized in their personal life. This led to the ambivalent attitudes towards Englishmen, with criticism of specific policies balanced by General admiration and even a belief in the providential nature of British rule. They hardly needed more than annual conference and few resolutions for their limited aims and objectives.
The social base of the early Congress members was still narrow and programme remained confined to the educated elite. Early Congress leaders were lawyers, merchants, bankers, lanowners, doctors, journalists etc. They were highly successful men in their professional life and had little time left over for political activities.
Wacha had complained to Naoroji in 1887 about Phiroz Shah Mehta and Mr. Telang remaining busy in their professional work and earning a lot of money and wondered how if all remain in pursuit of money would help in developing the country.
However the criticism of early Congress leaders is not fully justified. The national movement being in infancy, the Congress being a political party first of its kind, the masses not yet politicised, united and organised, nationalistic ideas yet in the stage of being permeated, suspicious and vigilant attitude of the British, all combined to pose severe limitations in the working of the early nationalists. And despite limitations, they have some credits like: (a) bringing the economic critique of the colonialism in the for of ‘Drain of wealth’ (b) Reforms in Civil Servicesand legislative council (c) they started the political unity of Indians initiating political training to the people and inculcating nationalistic sentiment among people in organised manner.