The Indian National Congress (INC) today celebrates its 132nd foundation day. One of the largest and oldest political parties in the world, the INC was founded in 1885.
Formed by Allan Octavian Hume, a retired British official, the objective of the party was to obtain a greater share in government for educated Indians.
With passing years, the INC became stronger and struggled for the independence. Here are a few ‘lesser known’ facts about the party:
- It is believed that the INC initially was not really national, it was a movement of self-interested individuals and it functioned as a vehicle for the pursuit of their material interest and parochial rivalries.
- The formation of INC in 1885 was not a singular event. It was backed by various previous movements, which prompted the people to put up a united all India front against the British government.
- A theory is associated with the INC which says that the British had seen the political situation in the country leading to another rebellion on the lines of the Mutiny of 1857; and they wished to avoid such a situation. So, they wanted to provide a platform to the people, where they could discuss their political problems. Indian National Congress was founded by a Retired Civil Servant and not by any Indian. It was said that the INC was started by Viceroy Lord Dufferin with the help of an ex Civil Services member as a “Safety Valve” against the popular discontent.
- Until 1905, the Congress did not have much public support. After the Partition of Bengal, senior Congress leaders Surendranath Banerjee and Sir Henry Cotton broke the political barriers and made the party instrumental in the Swadeshi movement.
- In 1907, the party split into two factions, namely the Garam Dal (extremists) of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the Naram Dal (moderates) of Gopal Krishna Gokhale. They were termed so because of their attitude towards the British rule. The differences among these two factions paralyzed the Congress party due to which the agitation for independence ran out of steam and remained so till the end of the first world war.
- The national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana,’ was first sung on December 27, 1911, during a meeting of the Indian National Congress party in Calcutta. The song’s title translates to, “Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people.”
(Courtesy: YouTube/Indian National Congress)
- Mahatama Gandhi wanted it disbanded after 1947, but INC played a major role in building India as a nation, in the early independence years.
- After the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in 1915, the Congress elected him as the president. By the end of the First World War in 1919, Gandhi became the spiritual leader and icon of the party.
- The INC was not always loved by the Muslims and they took it negatively in the beginning but there were leaders such as Badruddin Taybji who were active leaders.