Why did the ‘moderates’ fail to carry conviction with the national about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century?
Congress politics during the first twenty years of its history is known as moderate politics. They did demand equality. They equated liberty with class privilege and wanted gradual or piecemeal reforms. British rule for most of them seemed to be an act of providence destined to bring in modernisation. Indians needed some time to prepare themselves for self-government.
Their politics was very limited in terms of goals and methods. They believed in peaceful and constitutional agitation as opposed to popular means of agitation.
- They had a two-pronged methodology
- – to create a strong public opinion to arouse consciousness and spirit and to unite and educate people on common political questions
- – Persuade the British to introduce reforms in India on the lines laid out by nationalists.
- Their immediate demand was not for full self-government or democracy. They demanded democratic rights for the educated members of the Indian society,Why did they fail?
- They did not understand the true nature of the British rule.
- The social composition of the moderate politicians resulted in social orthodoxy as social questions were not to be raised in the congress sessions till 1906.
- Narrow social base and did not penetrate down to the masses as the leaders also did not have faith in them.
- They failed to realise that the masses could prove to be the real driving force in the movement. The contradictions in moderate politics made it more limited and alienated from the greater mass of the Indian population. This was related to the social background of the mostly belonged to propertied classes. So, congress could not take a logical stand on peasant questions.
- Pray, petition and protest type of politics could not turn to be effective
- Bengal was divided against the will and wish of people.
- Rise of extremist leaders like Tilak appealed more to the masses than moderatesDespite the failures, their contribution was enormous in legislative councils even though they had no real official power till 1920.They played significant role in the Indianisation of civil services, demanding that military expenditure should evenly be shared by the British, economic critique of imperialism, defence of civil rights