Genesis of Indian National Congress

Recently Indian National Congress has chosen its 98th president. After 24 years, Congress is going to have a non-Gandhi party president. Indian National Congress - a party that was founded on 1885 by a British civil service officer named Allan Octavian Hume; a party that had 6 European born persons who served as its presidents; yet a party that claims to have brought India's freedom. Was it really founded and acted on India's interest? We will try to understand what its founder once said about the party and what it’s one of the presidents, Lala Lajpat Rai, wrote about it.

"It is an undisputed historical fact, that the idea of the Indian National Congress was a product of Lord Dufferin's brain; that he suggested it to Mr. Hume that the latter undertook to work it out."

The safety valve

Yes, Congress was created by the British and for the British. Dufferin was the Viceroy in British India from 1884 to 1888. It was originally not known that Dufferin planned to establish Indian National Congress in order to control the Indian freedom movements so that rein of the movements always remain in British hands. Later it was disclosed in the biography of Mr. Hume written by William Wedderburn. Wedderburn himself was the fifth president of Congress.

British Empire was terribly shaken by our First War of Independence in 1857 that is also known as Sepoy Mutiny. Even after Britain suppressed the revolution with extreme cruelty, the massacre continued for many years after the rebellion was quashed. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed. Anyone suspected to have done any anti-British activity was taken out and tortured inhumanly. The Crown in Britain was dreadful of another such independence movement that would let them lose their prized possession called India. That is the reason the Empire wanted to create Congress having close tie with the administration. As William Wedderburn wrote

"Indeed, in initiating the national movement, Mr. Hume took counsel with the Viceroy, Lord was apparently by Lord Dufferin’s advice that he took up the work of political organization...the first Congress was opened with the friendly sympathy of the highest authorities."

Lala Lajpat Rai commented,
"What he (Dufferin) evidently aimed at was a sort of an innocuous association which should serve more as a “safety valve” than as a genuine Nationalist organisation for national purposes...He saw danger to British rule in discontent going underground, and one of his objects in establishing the Congress was to save British rule in India from an impending calamity of the gravest kind which he thought was threatening it at that time."

Hume once explained about the importance of having Congress as the safety-valve to (Sir) Auckland Colvin, Lieutenant-governor to a few Indian provinces,
"A safety valve for the escape of great and growing forces generated by our own action, was urgently needed, and no more efficacious safety-valve than our Congress movement could possibly be devised."

Brewing revolution

By "our own action" Hume clearly meant the despotic governance of British Empire. "growing forces" were the underground discontent and revolutionary movements. In Hume's biography, Mr. Wedderburn wrote that the real danger lies under the surface, arising from material suffering among the masses and resentment among the irreconcilable section of the dissatisfied intellectuals. He continued,

"The danger is enhanced by the fact that the autocratic power is exercised by a handful of foreigners, alien to the population in language, race, and creed, and belonging to a masterful nation singularly regardless of the feelings and prejudices of others. Consequently the mutterings of the storm are unheeded by them, and great disasters, like the Mutiny of 1857, and the tragedies of Cabul, come upon them like a bolt from the blue."

British government felt the imminent danger similar to 1857 and Mr. Hume was presented with seven large volumes of government records collected from various parts of India depicting how dangerous the situation was. Mr. Hume said,

"The jungle is all dry, fire does spread wonderfully in such when the right wind blows, and it is blowing now, and hard...I could not then and I do not now entertain a shadow of a doubt that we were then truly in extreme danger of a most terrible revolution...They(Indians) were going to do something and stand by each other, and that something means violence..a certain small number of educated classes, at the time desperately, perhaps unreasonably, bitter against Government would join the movement, assume here and there the lead, give the outbreak cohesion, and direct it as a national revolt."

Saving the empire

Congress leaders did what they were supposed to do. Save the Empire. Lala Lajpat Rai mentioned that Congress was successful in its objective of maintaining British rule in India. India's independence was never its goal.

"But one thing is clear, that the Congress was started more with the object of saving the British Empire from danger than with that of winning political liberty for India. The interests of the British Empire were primary and those of India only secondary, and no one can say that the Congress has not been true to that ideal. It might be said with justice and reason that the founders of the Indian National Congress considered the maintenance of British rule in India of vital importance to India herself, and therefore were anxious to do everything in their power, not only to save that rule from any danger that threatened it, but even to strengthen it; that with them the redress of political grievances and the political advance of India was only a by-product and of secondary importance. If so, the Congress has been true to its ideal, and no one can find fault with it."

Congress apologists and hypocrisy of the moderates

Some Congress apologists like Gokhale argued that no Indian could have started the Indian National Congress and that if the founder of the Congress had not been an Englishman, it would have been suppressed by the authority. Lala Lajpat Rai countered such arguments squarely.

"First, political agitation did not start with the Congress. It had been started before and no attempt to suppress it had succeeded. Second, the distrust of political agitation in India was not greater in those days than it is now (year 1916) and has been during the life of the Congress."

This was the genesis of Indian National Congress. Shameful indeed. Lala Lajpat Rai wrote how utterly Congress and its leaders failed the nation. He discussed about five key points for its failure. He mentioned how a new Nationalist Movement, outside Congress, of 1905 that started after Bengal division caught people's mind. People rose up rejecting British jobs, clothes, offices. It was a people's movement that started in 1905 under the banner Swadeshi and Swaraj.

"The former (Congress leaders) cared for wines, for children, and for home. The latter (revolutionaries) gave up all, to devote themselves completely to the cause and to the motherland. The former had produced only two full time workers for the cause in the course of 22 years, the latter produced virtually hundreds and thousands in less than two years."

Lala Lajpat Rai mentioned how revolutionaries, who were called 'extremists' and 'terrorists' by British, inspired the mass. Some of the moderate Congress leaders stooped so low that they called the revolutionaries as "good-for-nothing, who could do nothing at the universities, or with their lives; that they are maniacs and men who have lost all sense of right and wrong". Lala Lajpat Rai tore apart those hypocrite elites of Congress,

"But look at the men who have inspired the movement, some of whom are leading it even to-day. Is Arabinda Ghosh a failure? Is Har Dayal a failure? Were the nine deportees from Bengal failures? How many highclass graduates have been hanged; how many are in jail! Look at their university records and look at their prospects, and then say if you can call them “malcontents” or men who have arisen against the Government because they could not prosper under it."

Revolutionaries and Gandhi

He clearly articulated that because of these revolutionary leaders, government was forced to amend existing laws for sedition and different criminal procedures. Fearing a new revolution, new acts like Seditious Meetings Act, Explosive Act, Press Law were enacted. While the Congress moderate leaders were sleeping, and serving their British masters, these revolutionaries shook the base of British Empire.

During the tumultuous time of 1905 to 1915, revolutionaries took up the arms against the Empire. Lal-Bal-Pal trio was arousing the nationalism in Indian mass. Leaders like Aurobindo Ghosh, Jatin Mukherjee aka Bagha Jatin, Rashbehari Bose, Har Dayal spread the revolution beyond the boundary of India. British regime could feel the heat when Indian nationalists in Europe, America and Canada started actively participating in Indian independence movement. Revolutionaries took active foreign help, especially from Germany during WW1. Readers may watch the video or read an article on Hindu-German Conspiracy for details.

Exactly at this point when situation was going out of British hand again, Mr. M. K. Gandhi came back to India to take charge of Congress led pacifist movements. I went through Mr. Gandhi's life in another video where I have mentioned how irrelevant those movements were. Please watch/read the video and the article. None of the movements of Mr. Gandhi achieved anything at the end. Only thing his 1920-21 movement achieved was that it collected 1 crore of rupees for Congress with a repeated false promise of independence within a year from this man. Only thing his 1930 movement achieved was Indians could get salt from sea water. Not even a single word of freedom, not even dominion status, was there in final Gandhi-Irwin pact. And 1942 movement? Gandhi was arrested on the very first day and moved to Aga Khan Palace - not any ordinary jail. Gandhi himself denounced and distanced himself from 1942 movement as it turned violent.

The real reason behind India's freedom

India got independence as British lost loyalty of the Indian armed forces that was evident during the Naval Mutiny of 1946 and Subhash Bose's INA played a key role there. There were never more than 20,000 British officials in India at a given point of time and they ruled over 200 million Indians using direct help from Indian princely states, landlords and other elites. They used our army men and police forces to dominate over us. They even used our armed forces to wage war in other colonies and in different European wars like WW1 and WW2. All it was needed to throw British out to their Atlantic island was to cause insurrection in the Indian armed forces. That is what revolutionary leaders like Subhash Bose and Bagha Jatin did.

During the Navy Revolt, that was accompanied by Army and Air Force as well, British generals asked Gurkha Regiment to fire on the revolting Indian Navy men in Karachi, and they refused to fire. The same Gurkha Regiment once followed British command and fired on the unarmed civilians in Jallianwala Bagh less than 30 years back. British Empire realized that they have lost control over the armed forces, and their time has come to pack the bags.

Later British Prime Minister, Clement Atlee, who signed the Indian Independence Act, 1947 admitted that they left India due to INA's role in raising nationalism in the Indian armed forces. When he was asked about Gandhi's role in freedom movement, he smiled and said "M-I-N-I-M-A-L". Even British High Commissioner John Freeman stated that the Royal Navy Mutiny supported by the Army and the Air Force is the critical factor for British leaving India.

"The British were petrified of a repeat of the 1857 Mutiny, since this time they feared they would be slaughtered to the last man."

Summing it up

Indian National Congress and its top rung leaders were true to their original objective of protecting the British Empire from the violent wrath of revolting Indians and their sympathy continued even after the independence. Otherwise, who in right mind would want a British Union Jack on free India's national flag? Gandhi wished for it in 1947. Congress could have chosen the Irish model of independence where Irish rebels proclaimed their independence in 1919. British did not transfer the power to them. Even in case of Burma, power was relinquished by British, unlike India where power was transferred by the Indian Independence Act passed in British Parliament. But India followed Canadian and Australian model and became a Dominion under the British monarch on 15th August 1947 even though demography and civilizational history of India is completely different from Canada and Australia. Did you know that till 26th January 1950, Indian head of state was King George VI? Which self-respecting organization and its leaders would negotiate with its oppressor, an Empire that looted India for 200 years? Congress did. They even kept Mountbatten as the first Governor General of 'free' India. British Generals were kept as head of Navy and Air Force of 'free' India till late 1950s. As discovered from very recent and accidentally declassified documents that Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) was reporting to British counterpart MI5 till 1968 and was passing information to London on regular basis. An unwritten agreement during the transfer of power in 1947 was the secret positioning of a security liaison officer (SLO) in New Delhi as MI5’s representative. We had St. Geroge's cross in Indian Navy's ensign till 2001. Even after this colonial symbol was removed in 2001, it was brought back in 2004.

No, we cannot change the history. I can only wish that our freedom came through the direct hands of revolutionaries like Bagha Jatin, Rashbehari Bose, Bhagat Singh, Subhash Bose. I am not saying all Congress party members were wrong. I also accept the fact that multiple Congress led governments in the post-independent India brought many positive changes to this country. My objection is to the spineless leadership of this party that collaborated with the oppressors to gain power for themselves. I think India would have been very different having the idealist leaders leading the nation instead of self-serving, political power-driven organization like Indian National Congress that was born only to serve interest of the British Crown.

Watch the video on this article on YouTube:

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