During the closing decades of the nineteenth century, the moderate faction emerged within the Indian National Congress with the objective of reforming British colonial rule in India.
The moderates employed methods of prayer, petition, and peaceful protests to express their concerns, although these methods yielded limited results.
Proclaimed Ideology of Moderates:
Professed Loyalty to British Rule: The moderates believed in the justness of British rule and thus expressed complete loyalty to the British authorities.
British as Empowerment Agents: They argued that India was not yet ready to stand independently and needed British guidance to achieve empowerment.
Advocated Peaceful Means: Moderates emphasized the effectiveness of non-violent, constitutional approaches to achieve their goals.
Utilization of Press: The press became a significant platform for discussing British policies and raising awareness among the public.
Sessions for Resolutions: Congress sessions provided opportunities to pass resolutions and voice protests against discriminatory laws.
Reasons for Failure:
Limited Reach: The moderate group primarily consisted of Western-educated and privileged indigenous elites, like the Bhadralok in Bengal.
Exclusion of Marginalized: The backward regions and underprivileged groups remained beyond their sphere of influence until the arrival of leaders like Gandhi.
British Manipulation: The British exploited the assertiveness of moderates to sow discord, encouraging Muslims to distance themselves from the Congress.
Elite Nature of Demands:
Limited Appeal: The moderate demands, such as civil service recruitment reforms, were of greater concern to the educated elite than the general population.
Minor Achievement: The moderate efforts resulted in expanding legislative councils under the Indian Councils Act (1892), but failed to achieve substantial change.
Rise of Extremist Leaders:
Dynamic Orators: Extremist leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipinchandra Pal, and Aurobindo Ghosh were charismatic speakers and influential writers in vernacular newspapers.
Mass Appeal: Their ideologies gained traction and followers, overshadowing the moderate faction.
Emergence of Extremist Ideology:
Mass-Centric Approach: The extremist ideology focused on passive resistance and direct action, with the ultimate goal of complete independence (Swaraj), resonating with the masses.
In conclusion, the moderates’ attempts to establish credibility and widespread support for their ideology faced several challenges. Their non-inclusive nature, elite-focused demands, limited successes, and the emergence of more appealing extremist ideologies contributed to their failure.
The advent of dynamic leaders and the shift towards more assertive, mass-oriented approaches ultimately marginalized the moderates within the Indian National Congress.