Differences between the Moderates and the Extremists

When the failure of moderate politics became quite apparent by the end of the 19th century, reaction set in from within the congress circles and this new trend is referred to as the ‘Extremists’ trend. This extremism developed in three main regions and under the leadership of three important individuals- Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Maharashtra and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab.

Comparison between Moderates and Extremist Leadership of Congress

BasisModeratesExtremists
Phase1885-19051905-1920
Aim1. Aimed at administrative and constitutional reforms.

2. Wanted more Indians in the administration and not to an end of British rule.

3. They were secular in their attitudes, though not always forthright enough to rise above their sectarian interests. They knew the exploitative nature of British rule but wanted its reforms and not expulsion.

1. Aim of getting Swaraj

2. Wanted to end the tyranny rule of British.

Ideology1. They believe in the efficacy of peaceful and constitutional agitation.

2. They had great faith in the British sense of justice and fair play.

3. They were inspired by the ideas of western philosophers like Mill, Burke, Spencer and Bentham. Moderates imbibed western ideas of liberalism, democracy, equity and freedom.

1. They were radical in their approach. Demands of extremists were aggressive.

2. They believed in atmashakti or self-reliance as a weapon against domination.

3. Ideological inspiration was Indian History, Cultural heritage, national education and Hindu traditional symbols. Hence, they revived the Ganapati and Shivaji festivals to arouse the masses.

4. They wanted to inculcate pride in India’s glorious culture to generate the spirit of nationalism. They invoked goddesses Kali or Durga for strength to fight for the motherland.

5. Guided by four: principles Swarajya, Swadeshi, Boycott of foreign goods and National education to make the Indian aware.

Methodology1. They follow the principles of 3P: Petition, Prayer and Protest.

2. They believed in cooperation and reconciliation.

1. They believe in militant methods.

2. They follow the principle of atmashakti or self-reliance as a weapon against domination.

3. Method of Non-Cooperation.

4. They advocated democracy, constitutionalism and progress.

LeadersA.O. Hume. W.C. Banerjee. Surendra Nath Banerjee, Dadabhai Naoroji, Feroze Shah Mehta. Gopalakrishna Gokhale. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. Badruddin Tyabji. Justice Ranade and G.Subramanya AiyarLala Lajpat Rai, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Bipin Chandra Pal, Aurobindo Ghosem Rajnarayan Bose, and  Ashwini Kumar Dutt
Social SupportZamindars and Upper middle classes in townsEducated middle and lower middle classes in towns
Contribution1. Economic Critique of British Imperialism

2. Constitutional Reforms and Propaganda in Legislature

3. Campaign for General Administrative Reforms

4. Defence of Civil Rights

1. Demand of Swaraj

2. Mass movement

3. Spread of national education

4. Upliftment of downtrodden

5. Nationalism

6. Support to revolutionary movements

7. Rise of communalism

8. Encouraged co-operative organisation

9. Set up charitable association for rural sanitation, preventive police duties, regulation of fairs and pilgrim gatherings for providing relief fund during famines and other calamities.

The factors that led to the rise of and extremist trend within the Congress circles
  • Frustration with moderate politics was definitely the major reason behind the rise of extremists’ reaction. The congress under moderate leadership was being governed by an undemocratic constitution, although after repeated attempts by Tilak, a new constitution was drafted and rectified in 1899, it was never given a proper trial.
  • Moderate politics reached a dead end as most of their demands remained unfulfilled and this was certainly a major reason behind the rise of extremism.
  • The failure of the Moderates to win any notable success other than the expansion of the legislative councils by the Indian Councils Act (1892).
  • The partition of Bengal in 1905 opened the eyes of the Indians to the true colors of the British rulers.

The extremists drew inspiration from India’s past, invoked the great episodes in the history of the Indian people and tried to infuse national pride and self-respect among them. Idealizing western culture gives the Indians an inferiority complex. The rich history of India was revived by them, especially with regard to Hindu history and ideologies.