Split in Congress - 1907
As a fallout of the Swadeshi and Boycott movement, two distinct schools of thoughts emerged. The two groups differed on the extent of loyalty to the British Empire and one of them would go as far as to demand complete independence. The other, called the moderates, would accept British rule as a necessary platform for demanding certain rights for Indian citizens and would believe in the politics of prayers and petitions, rather than active agitation in favour of independence. The former would include Aurobindo Ghosh, while the later, among others, Surendranath Bannerjee.
As early as 1902 even Bipin Chandra Pal was in the moderate camp when he proclaimed during the Shivaji festival, loyalty to the Empire as 'natural', 'unconscious', and 'automatic.' He echoed the statements of Sir Henry Cotton that "the British Government was viewed by Indians as an irrevocable necessity that has done immense service to them." But the attitude of the Government towards Partition of Bengal dashed that hope. Pal had no qualms in declaring in 1907 that Curzon and his total disregard of popular will destroyed his old illusion about British India. These political disillusion set in motion the creation of an alternate school of thought in the country, which differed from that of the moderates within Congress. Historians have labelled this thought as Extremists, but "Radical" may be a better term. The Partition of Bengal and the Swadeshi and Boycott movements increased the chasm between the moderates and the radicals. Moderates could not reconcile themselves to the Boycott of foreign goods and the educational institutions. The Extremist party became an all India party under the leadership of Tilak, Khaparde, Lajpat Rai, Bipin Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh. At this time the Liberal Party of Britain came to power and John Morley was appointed the Secretary of State for India. This raised the hope of the Moderates. British also played their politics of divide and rule and tried to be close to the Moderates. According to Dr. Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Moderates did not realize that they were valued by the British only because of their apprehension of the Extremists. Both Morley and Minto who took over as Viceroy wanted to win over the Moderates with the help of Gokhale. When Gokhale did not play along Morley and Minto were furious. Gokhale criticized the Moely Minto reform proposal in 1909.
The real difference of the two parties, moderates and radicals was in their political goals and methods. While moderates preferred Congress's goal of Colonial type self rule, radicals preferred complete autonomy and freedom from foreign rule. Extremist Party aimed at attending Swaraj or Self Government. Aurobindo wrote "Political Freedom is the life breath of a Nation." Radicals also rejected petitioning as the means as they considered that in the event of clash of interests, rarely the powerful interested party gives in. Extremist party prescribed passive resistance as the means by which the Nation could get rid of a foreign bureaucracy, by opposing them under all circumstances. After Congress session of 1906, Tilak undertook a tour to preach this doctrine of passive resistance. He advocated Boycott as an effective political weapon as that would prevent the British from collecting taxes and using the country's resources to carry out their own agenda, be it war or peace. He decried the Moderate Party's propensity to believe in the liberal ideals and the intentions of the British. He predicted that Morley would be handicapped by the opposition of the Anglo Indian Bureaucracy to give power to Indians and his prediction came true.
Tilak summed up the differences between the approaches of the Moderates and the Extremists. He said that the Radicals believed that they must ask for rights being conscious of the fact that those demands could not be refused and that there was a great difference between demanding and petitioning. People should be ready to fight if there demands were turned down.He advised not to count upon the sympathy of the rulers. In short, no ruler ever gave in to meek and submissive subjects, as the examples of Ireland, Japan and Russia showed. Aurobindo Ghosh wrote a series of articles on Passive Resistance in Bande Mataram in April 1907.He explained Passive Resistance as opposed to Active Resistance as - not doing anything which by which the Government would be benefited as opposed to doing something that would harm the Government. This was later adopted by Gandhiji during Non Cooperation. Aurobindo emphasized on Boycott of the Government institutions and the refusal to pay taxes as well as the Boycott of British goods as the means of Passive Resistance.
Moderates criticized the ultimate goal of the Extremists and the methods suggested as they believed that the future progress of the country was possible only under the British rule as Indians were not yet capable of ruling and were not united. Gokhale had said that 'only mad men outside lunatic asylum could think or talk of independence." Gokhale believed that there was no alternative to British rule "for a long time to come." Dadabhai Naoroji strongly defended the politics of prayers and petitions which the Extremists termed as mendicancy. Moderates also thought that the idea of Passive Resistance was impracticable. The Moderates pointed out the failures of Boycott of the goods like sugar and cotton, the pitfalls of Boycotting educational institutions and the fallacy in assuming that people would Boycott en masse the Government services. Moderates held the view that it would be better to take advantage of the meager services provided by the Government rather than Boycotting them. Moderates believed in the sense of justice of the British and expected that over a long period of time British Government would have change of heart and would provide more benefits. Some of the Moderate leaders viewed the Extremists having evil designs of jeopardizing any little progress that could be made by Congress through its policy of appeasing the British Government. Aurobindo gave a spiritual dimension to the politics by viewing patriotism as a form of devotion. He regarded the Nationalism as a form of worship of the Mother Goddess in the form of the Nation. He regarded it as a duty of every Indian to fight against foreign tyranny and oppression just as he would if "a demon sits on the breast of his mother and is about to drink her blood." He and other Extremist leaders therefore regarded sacrifice to the altar of the Mother as the great worship and hence no means to be spared to attain that objective. To Aurobindo goes the credit of this emergence of the Extremists or Radicals and the virtual wash out of the Moderates.
Aurobindo, Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai took over the reigns from the old guard of Surendranath, Dadabhai Naoroji, Gokhale etc. Bande Mataram paper of Aurobindo became very popular in evoking the spirit of sacrifice for the sake of the divine mother, to raise the spirit of Nationalism. Aurobindo became the undisputed leader of freedom movement. In 1907 the fissure between Moderates and Extremists developed into a full blown war in the Surat Congress. The difference between the new Nationalist party of the Extremists and the old Congress party of the Moderates was irreconcilable and it was evident after the Varanasi Congress in 1905. Lajpat Rai held the view that British were disinterested about the problems of India and suffering of her people. Therefore India will have to evolve the Self Governance not under British rule, but all by herself, by seeking freedom. Moderates like Gokhale on the other hand believed that Self Government within then Empire was to be the goal of India. They were also divided over the principles behind Swadeshi and on application of Boycott as a tool. Moderates believed that Boycott would not work practically. Nationalist leaders believed that withdrawal of all kinds of cooperation to the British rule in all spheres of public and administrative activity was the need of the hour. Tilak and Pal went on a tour across India to preach this principle. Before the 1906 Calcutta session the Moderates were enthused by the victory of the Liberal party in Britain. Nationalists on the other hand were inspired by the victory of Japan over Russia. Moderates also pinned their hopes on the new Secretary of State John Morley. Extremists leaders gathered strength and support, particularly in Bengal. Moderates scored a victory by electing Grand Old Man Dadabhai Naoroji as the President. The 82 year old President, who was out of touch with the aspirations of the younger generation, repeatedly emphasized on agitation for securing benefits. Congress also accepted resolutions of Swadeshi, Boycott and National Education and the President also spoke about Swaraj without giving it a concrete shape. It was in effect a compromise between the two groups.
1907 Surat Congress was a watershed moment as the compromize made in Calcutta Congress was abandoned by the moderates under the influence of Phiroze Shah Mehta. The resolution adopted did not include Boycott, Self Governance and National Education. Rashbehari Ghosh was proposed to be the president from the Moderate camp. There was a pitched battle between the two camps. A shoe was hurled at Tilak which hit Surendranath and Phiroz Shah. The session was adjourned Sine Die. Moderates had decided to change their resolution at the insistence of John Morley and Lord Minto. Therefore British had again played their dirty game of divide and rule and Indians esp. the Moderates simply followed. Gokhale had a tacit agreement with Morley despite knowing for dure that Morley regarded the question of self Governance as a pipe dream. It was the invisible hand of Morley and Minto that pulled the strings that engineered the split between the Moderates and the Extremists and the low self esteem of the Moderates and their willingness to believe their British masters were the prime reasons for the same.
Even after Surat Congress Tilak tried for a patch up but Moderates regarded him as a traitor and would have nothing to do with him. Tilak appealed through Kesari to not to let differences of opinions come against the interest of the country. But Moderates were more interested in placating the Morle Minto group by keeping the extremists at bay. Tilak, with his slogan of "Swaraj is my Birthright and I will have it" increased the popularity of the Nationalists, particularly among the youth.
The Extremists, whose activities were severely daunted after the deportation of Tilak, finally were admitted to Congress in 1916. This was after the Moderate leaders like Gokhale had left their mortal coils and a new leader, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, protégé of Gokhale, was rising, and Tilak and Annie Bessant had joined hands to launch the Home Rule movement.