formation of indian national congress

Formation of Indian National Congress

In the later 1870s and early 1880s, a solid ground had been prepared for the establishment of an all-India organization. The final shape of this idea was given by a retired English civil servant, A.O. Hume, who mobilized leading intellectuals of the time and, with their cooperation, organized the first session of the Indian National Congress at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Bombay in December 1885.
  • The first session of the Indian National Congress was attended by 72 delegates and presided over by Womesh Chandra Banerjee. Hereafter, the Congress met every year in December, in a different part of the country each time.
  • There is a theory that Hume formed the Congress with the idea that it would prove to be a ‘safety valve’ for releasing the growing discontent of the Indians. To this end, he convinced Lord Dufferin not to obstruct the formation of the Congress. The extremist leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai believed in the ‘safety valve’ theory.
  • Even the Marxist historian’s ‘conspiracy theory’ was an offspring of the ‘safety valve’ notion. For example, R.P. Dutt opined that the Indian National Congress was born out of a conspiracy to abort a popular uprising in India and the bourgeois leaders were a party to it.
  • Modern Indian historians, however, opine that the INC represented the urge of the politically conscious Indians to set up a national body to express the political and economic demands of the Indians. If the Indians had convened such a body on their own, there would have been insurmountable opposition from the officials; such an organization would not have been allowed to form. In such circumstances, the early Congress leaders used Hume as a ‘lightning conductor’ i.e., as a catalyst to bring together the nationalistic forces even if under the guise of a ‘safety valve’. Gopal Krishna Gokhale believed in the ‘Lightning Conductor theory’.
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