Brief History of Home Rule League Movement
Home Rule League Movement
Introduction: The Surat Congress led to the split of the Indian National Congress. It affected the national movement which lost momentum. But the World War I offered an opportunity for the union of the Extremists and the Moderates. As a result, the national movement was accelerated by the Home Rule movement.
Background of the movement: Tilak modified his political views after his release from prison in 1914. He assured the government of his loyalty to the crown and urged all Indians to assist the British government in its hour of crisis. But soon he realized that the government was not willing to grant self-government. Moreover, Indians had to face great misery in consequence of the First World War. To their great despair, they found the British Government adopting repressive measures. Thus, a deep anti-British feeling was created among the Indians.
Foundation of the Home Rule League: Mrs. Annie Besant had come to India in 1893. She plunged herself into political struggle. In 1914, she decided to start a movement for Home Rule on the lines of the Irish Home Rule League. In early 1915, she launched a campaign demanding self-government. In September 1916, she started the Home Rule League as an independent political organization. A few months earlier Tilak had established an Indian Home Rule League with the object of attaining Home Rule or self-government.
The Home Rule movement started: The two Home rule Leagues worked in close co-operation. Tilak promoted the Home rule campaign with a tour in Maharashtra and popularized the demand for Home rule. Tilak declared, ‘Swaraj is my birth right’. The government tried to hit back. He was asked to deposit securities of Rs. 60000 for good behavior. Tilak was defended by a team of lawyers. He was exonerated by the High court. The victory was sure to fan the fire of agitation. By April 1917, Tilak had enlisted 14000 members. Many moderates also joined the Home Rule Movement.
Turning point in the movement: The turning point of the movement came with the decision of the government of Madras in June 1917 to arrest Mrs. Besant. The arrest created a nation-wide protest. Moderate leaders now enlisted themselves as members of the Home Rule Leagues. As a result, the British Government decided to effect a change in policy and adopt a conciliatory attitude. Annie Besant was released in September, 1917.
Importance of the movement: The Home Rule movement had two very important political outcomes.
- First, it hastened the formulation of a new policy which was defined in Montague’s Declaration.
- Second, the moderates were finally ousted from control over the Congress.
- The stage was thus set for the entry of Gandhiji.