History of Indian National Congress

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History of Indian National Congress

The origin of the Indian National Congress was not an accidental event. Though it is commonly believed that Mr. A.O. Hume was the ‘father of Indian National Congress’, but there are many other opinions as regards the genesis of the Congress.

Safety valve theory

The efforts of Hume behind the formation of the National Congress cannot be denied. His main aim was to provide a ‘Safety valve’ for the British Empire against the growing forces of public uprisings.

He thought that for formal fulfillment of the demands there was the need of the Congress. He made a secret discussion with the Governor General in this affair. Mainly for the sake of the safety of the British rule Duffrin nodded positive to Hume’s plan. According to leftist historian R.P. Dutta ‘congress in the result of a conspiracy between Hume and Duffrin’.

Opinion of Sitaramaiyya

While discussing about the grounds for the origin of the National Congress, Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya said –

  1. In the Delhi Darbar of 1877 A.D. the primary plans for the formation of Congress was made.
  2. The National Exhibition at Calcutta Town Hall in 1883 A.D. provided the stimulus for the rise of the Congress.
  3. In 1884 A.D. at a convention of the Theosophical Society at Adyar in Madras 17 of its leaderships made a secret planning for the foundation of an All India Political Organization.

According to Annie Besant, one of the leaders was Surendranath Banerjee.

Open letter

According to the biographer historian of Hume, William Wedder Burn, the retired member of the Civil Service, from secret documents of police reports, came to know about the probability of the growing forces of popular discontents. For that reason, 1st March, 1883 A.D. he addressed in an ‘Open letter’ to the graduates of the University which meant for founding the Congress for the social, moral and political up gradation of the Indian population. According to this plan the Congress was founded.

Indian association

On the other hand according to Dr. Bipan Chandra, Surendranath Banerjee took much initiative for the foundation of the Congress. His ‘Indian Association’ (1876 A.D.) initiated and acted as favoring factor in preparing the metal setup for the Congress. The ‘All India National Conference’ call by Surendranath in Town Hall, Calcutta in 1883 A.D. paved the way for the origin of the Congress in 1885 A.D.

Role of the Theosophist

According to many, Dadabhai Naoroji was the founder of the National Congress. But Dinsha Wachha regards Hume and not Dadabhai as the founder. Against, A. Subramanyia Eyer reports that in the International Exhibition of Delhi in 1883 A.D. the leaders planned the foundation of Congress. Others believe that the foundation of the ‘Theosophical Society’ by Col. H.A. Alcott gave the idea for the formation of the Congress.

Modern opinion

In the conclusion it can be said that Congress took birth in a special situation in the post revolt period of 1857 A.D.  Historian R.C. Majumder gave less significance to the words of Pattabhi Sitaramayya. According to him its origin should be searched differently. According to Cambridge Historian Anil Sil, the role of Lord Duffrin in the foundation of Congress is actually a myth. So the actual origin of the Congress still today remains in darkness. Historian Percival Spear considers that even if Congress was developed as a safety valve by Duffrin and Hume, there are doubts to how much this theory could be enacted. According to R.P. Dutta Congress originated from the conspiracy between Hume and Duffrin, though no conclusions about this can be drawn.

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