'Moderates' and 'Extremists'




'Moderates' and 'Extremists':

At about the same time, a debate emerged, especially in Maharashtra, arguing about the priority of political reforms over the priority of social reforms. The ‘Extremists’ wing of thinkers insisted that independence should be the natural priority. An independent nation could provide the right set-up for social reformation. On the other hand, the Moderates thought that without social reformation independence was incomplete. They did not mind appealing to the British Government to help in the task of social reforms.

Moderates believed in Liberalism and Moderate Politics. They believed that the British rulers were merely unaware of the plight of the Indian masses and that once they were made aware the British authorities would do their utmost to improve the lives of the local populace. Whereas the extremist leaders firmly believed that the British had no interest of the Indian people in mind. It was evident from the lacklustre response from the authorities during a plague or famine. Secondly, Moderates wanted greater autonomy and self-rule while still under the nominal rule of the British crown and the Extremists wanted completed independence from British rule. Prayer, Petition, Persuasion, and Philanthropy. Their demands were constitutional, and so was their agitation. Their methods were regarded as ‘Passive Resistance’. Moreover, extremists were radical in terms of their approach, and believed in militant methods including but not limited to the assassination of key personnel.

Gopal Ganesh Agarkar was at the helm of those who insisted on the priority of social reforms. He used to say that we need to first reform ourselves. On the contrary, Lokmanya Tilak, who was the leader of the Extremists, used to say that the home taken over by others should be recovered first, then only we can reform it. Pherozeshah Mehta, Gopal Krishna Gokhale were the leaders of the Moderates. They felt that if they could convince the government about their grievances, with necessary proofs, the government will not disappoint them. Lokmanya Tilak, on the contrary, felt that the British Government will not yield to applications, requests, and speeches.

The differences between Moderates and Extremists reached its climax in the session of the Indian National Congress held at Surat in 1907. The Moderates wanted to avoid the resolutions of ‘Swadeshi’ and ‘Boycott’. The Extremist wanted to stop these attempts of the Moderates. This increased the tension during the session. Reconciliation became impossible. Ultimately the Indian National Congress split into two groups.

To control the programmes of the Indian National Congress, Lord Curzon planned the partition of Bengal. After the partition of Bengal, the British Government began to take strict actions against the leaders of the Extremists. Lokamanya Tilak was sent to Mandalay prison for 6 years under the charge of treason. Bipin Chandra Pal was imprisoned and Lala Lajpat Rai was deported Lokmanya Tilak returned to India after completing a six-year term in the prison of Mandalay in 1914. After that, there was a reconciliation between Moderates and Extremists and they came together in the Congress session at Lucknow.

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