There were important events that happened during the time when Lord Minto and Lord Hardinge were Viceroys of India. The below outline of events aims to give a quick summary of events that happened during their tenure as Viceroys.
Lord Minto (1905-1910)
Important events under Minto:
1906: Establishment of Muslim League
1907: Surat split of INC
1909: Grant of separate electorates to Muslims
Thus the dreams visualized by Lord Curzon was brought into practice under Lord Minto.
Establishment of Muslim League
- When the partition of Bengal was carried out in the name of giving a separate homeland for the Muslims, likewise the establishment of Muslim league was an effort by the British to identify Muslims as a separate political entity.
- In 1906, Lord Minto invited all the Muslim leaders to Shimla and proposed the establishment of the Muslim league. Nawab Salimullah who played a very important role in the partition of Bengal, also played an important role in the establishment of Muslim league.
- The Muslim League, as it was projected, was a politico-cultural organization. Initially, there was no contradiction between the Congress and the Muslim League. It was agreed that anyone who was a member of the Congress, can simultaneously become a member of the Muslim League, and vice versa.
- Aga Khan was the first President of the Muslim League. This idea did not get much support from the Muslims also.
Demands of the Muslim League
- The main demand of the Muslim league was that of grant of separate electorates to the Muslims. The grant of separate electorates by the British would infuse the seeds of communalism in Indian society.
- According to this, Muslims would be represented by Muslim leaders, i.e. there was a separate electoral college for the representation of the Indian Muslims.
- Morley was the Secretary of State for India. Minto was the Viceroy. There was a discussion between Morley and Minto, and Morley had made the remark, “Please remember, in granting separate electorates we are showing the dragons’ teeth and harvest will be bitter.”
- The climax of the Morley Minto reforms created the seeds for the demand of a separate state, called Pakistan.
The dream of a ‘Surat Split’ was already conceived by Curzon when he made the statement ‘Congress was tottering to its fall and one of the biggest ambitions in my life is to give it a peaceful demise’.
- The Surat split was a big jolt to the Indian National Congress. In fact, the difference between the moderates and the extremists presented an opportunity to the British.
- The moderates were quite reluctant to pass the motion on the demand for Swaraj. The Arya-samaj notion of Swaraj and Swadeshi was the hallmark of the programme of the extremists.
- In the initial days, there were many Congress leaders who opposed the notion of Swaraj, the demand for Swaraj, and extremist politics, but at the beginning of the 20th Century, some of the veteran Congress leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, and G.K. Gokhale, had the word, ‘Swaraj’ in their minds.
For Example, In 1905 (Banaras Session of the INC): Gokhale was the President and for the first time, he had a discussion over ‘Swaraj’.
In 1906, Dadabhai Naoroji (who was the President of the INC session at Calcutta), and in his Presidential address, used the word Swaraj.
Thus, the word, ‘Swaraj’ wasn’t untouchable to them, but they were reluctant to pass the resolution over ‘Swaraj’.
In 1907, Surat Session: The two main objectives placed by the extremists were that:
1) Demand for the resolution of Swaraj
2) Lala Lajpat Rai to be made the President of the INC
These two demands were not acceptable to the moderates. Thus, instead of Lala Lajpat Rai, the moderates supported the idea of Rash Behari Ghosh as the President. This was the first time that there was to be an election in the INC for Presidentship. In between the election, the extremists were expelled from the INC, and the moderates had complete command over the affairs of the INC. Rash Behari Ghosh became the President of the Surat session.
The Surat split was a victory of the British policy of Divide and Rule, and after a long time, the British believed that they were in control of the affairs of the moderates over the INC.
In 1909: Separate electorates were granted to the Muslims during a time when the Congress was at its lowest ebb. The most critical and vocal elements were not a part of the INC. Thus the British had taken absolute advantage over the INC.
However, there are some reservations over the split of the INC at Surat:
- This was because the extremists did not form a separate organization at first. They were merely indifferent from the activities of the Congress. And when they were expelled from the INC, the British Government was looking for an opportunity to settle scores with the extremists.
- Thus Bal Gangadhar Tilak was imprisoned for 6 years (on the pretext that it was an ‘offence to preach nationalism’). Lala Lajpat Rai was expelled from Punjab, and Bipin Chandra Pal had overnight turned ‘moderate’. Thus the extremist view no longer remained active in the field of Indian politics. This again encouraged the British to pursue the aggressive policy of Divide and Rule. Thus the ‘Surat split’ need not be called a ‘split’, as the extremists merely remained indifferent to the INC, and did not form a separate organization. In 1916, they reunited with the Congress in the Lucknow session, thus there was only an ideological difference between the extremists and the moderates and not a division as such. The extremists only remained outside the fold of the INC and did not participate in its activities.
- Lord Hardinge (1910- 1916)
- During the time of Lord Hardinge, the context of partition reached its zenith. In the grand Delhi Durbar, the annulment of the partition of Bengal was announced.
- After this Bihar was separated from Bengal and it became a new state. The announcement of this was done in 1911, and it came into practice in 1912, and at the same time, the transfer of capital from Calcutta to Delhi was carried out.
- When Lord Hardinge was entering Delhi (at Chandni Chowk) in a procession, Rash Behari Bose, a famous revolutionary nationalist attempted to throw a bomb on him. This was known as the famous Chandni Chowk bomb case.
- Lord Hardinge escaped unhurt, and Rash Behari Bose, left from the country. He was present in 1942 along with Subhash Chandra Bose during the establishment of the Indian National Army (INA) in 1942.