Nagpur Session of Congress



  • This session was held at a time when major program of Non-Cooperation was initiated in 1920
  • The Indian National Congress attempted to strengthen the Non-Cooperation Movement at its Nagpur session held in December 1920


The Nagpur Session of 1920

  • The following resolutions were adopted at the Nagpur Session:
    • The programme of non-cooperation was endorsed
    • An important change was made in the Congress: now, instead of having the attainment of self-government through constitutional means as its goal, the Congress decided to have the attainment of swaraj through peaceful and legitimate means, thus committing itself to an extraconstitutional mass struggle
    • Some important organisational changes were made:
      • a congress working committee (CWC) of 15 members was set up to lead the Congress from now onwards;
      • provincial congress committees on linguistic basis were organised;
      • ward committees was organised; and
      • entry fee was reduced to four annas
    • Gandhi declared that if the non-cooperation programme was implemented completely, swaraj would be ushered in within a year
  • Other developments at the session include:
    • Many groups of revolutionary terrorists, especially those from Bengal, also pledged support to the Congress programme
    • The adoption by the Congress of the non-cooperation movement initiated earlier by the Khilafat Committee gave it a new energy, and the years 1921 and 1922 saw an unprecedented popular upsurge


Significance of the Session

  • When the session concluded on December 31, 1920, history had been created.
    • Mahatma Gandhi emerged as the supreme leader of Congress, and a new chapter was set to be written in the Indian struggle for Independence with the non-cooperation movement.
    • The historic Nagpur Session not only saw solid emergence of Mahatma Gandhi in national politics but also passage of all-important resolution on non-cooperation movement.
  • The session also saw Congress changing its creed while adopting a new Constitution.
    • It truly marked the change of gears of the freedom struggle.
  • A galaxy of eminent leaders of time Mahatma Gandhi, Mohd Ali Jinnah, Pt Motilal Nehru, Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sardar Patel, C R Das, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipinchandra Pal, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and a host of others arrived in the city and debated and discussed various important matters to shape India’s freedom struggle.
  • In the words of Dr B Pattabhi Sitaramayya, known as historian of Congress, “The Nagpur Congress really marked a new era in recent Indian history. The old feelings of impotent rage and importunate requests gave place to a new sense of responsibility and a spirit of self- The Nagpur Congress laid a heavy duty upon the Nation, and the All India Congress Committee, under the advice of the Working Committee, set itself seriously to its task.”


Impact of the Session

  • The resolution on non-cooperation had many shades including
    • renunciation of voluntary association with the then Government
    • refusal to pay taxes
    • boycotting schools aided or controlled by the Government
    • nationalising educational institutions
    • call to lawyers to suspend their practice
    • economic boycott of foreign goods
    • encouraging hand-spinning and hand-weaving
    • boycott of Legislative Council elections etc
  • In another resolution, people were asked to popularise Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine by establishing schools, colleges, and hospitals
  • Following boycott call, thousands of students across the country shifted to national educational institutions
  • The no-vote campaign turned out to be a remarkable success in some parts of the country. Numerous lawyers left their profession and dedicated themselves to the cause of national movement.
    • In January 1921, Bajaj donated Rs 1 lakh to Tilak Memorial Swaraj Fund to support lawyers who had participated in non-cooperation movement.

Thus, the Nagpur session committed congress to program of extra-constitutional mass actions. And it ushered in a new era in Indian History, as it gave way to new sense of responsibility and self-reliance