The Indian National Congress (INC), India’s largest opposition party, marked its 138th foundation day on December 28.

 

How the Congress was founded?

  • The English bureaucrat Allan Octavian Hume or AO Hume is credited as the founder of the organisation.
  • On December 28, 1885, 72 social reformers, journalists and lawyers congregated for the first session of the INC at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College, Bombay.
  • At that point, the aim of this group was not to demand independence from the ongoing colonial rule but to influence the policies of the British government in favour of Indians.

 

Transformation towards the demand for independence

  • Over the next few years, the party’s work continued, to shift the colonial administrators’ attitudes and policies on the rights and powers allowed to Indians.
  • The party largely consisted of educated, upper-class people who were likely to have studied abroad. But with time, this grouping became more diverse, as the organisation began setting up provincial organisations.
  • At its Eleventh Session in 1895, there was an increase in the number of delegates from 1,163 the previous year to 1,584. President Surendranath Banerjea congratulated the Congress for bringing together “the scattered element of a vast and diversified population.”

 

Splits and reconvening

  • In Surat in 1906, the divisions between the ‘moderates’ led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Surendranath Banerjea, and the ‘extremists’ led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak came to the fore and there was a split. While Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai wanted the Congress to boycott the visit of the Prince of Wales in protest against the Bengal Partition a year prior, the moderates opposed any such move.
  • But by 1915, the Bombay session saw these two groups coming together again as one.