• The nucleus of the Congress leadership consisted of men from Bombay and Calcutta who had first come together in London in the late-1860s and early-’70s while studying for the ICS or for law—Pherozeshah Mehta, Badruddin Tyabji, W.C. Bonnerji, Manmohan and Lalmohan Ghosh, Surendranath Banerji, Anandamohan Bose, and Romeshchandra Dutt, who all fell under the influence of Dadabhai Naoroji who was then settled in England as businessman-cum-publicist.


  • Those among this group who did not join the civil service (or, as in the case of Surendranath was thrown out of it), along with some others like a Sadharan Brahmo group headed by Dwarkanath Ganguli in Calcutta, Ranade and G.V. Joshi in Poona, K.T. Telang in Bombay, and a little later G. Subramaniya Iyer, Viraraghavachari and Ananda Charlu in Madras, took the initiative in starting a number of local associations.



Pre - Congress Era

The congress was born as a culmination of a process started in 1860 and 1870s and reached pinnacle in the 1880s. The youth had started entering into radical nationalist politics and wanted formation of newer organizations that had replaced older ones.

Surendranath banerjee and Anand Mohan Bose founded on these lines the Indian Association and were organizing All India National Congress and were planning a second one. Due to this Surendranath banerjee couldn’t attend the founding session of the congress in Mumbai in 1885.

Several agitation s in the preceding years had encouraged Indians viz. cotton import duties protest, afghan was, Illbert bill controversy [ Indian judges could try Europeans], vernacular press act of Lord Lytton, arms act. These didn’t achieve results as they weren’t coordinated on an All India level.


The political associations in the early half of the nineteenth century were dominated by wealthy and aristocratic elements, local or regional in character, and through long petitions to the British Parliament demanded—

1. administrative reforms

2.association of Indians with the administration

3. spread of education

The political associations of the second half of the nineteenth century came to be increasingly dominated by the educated middle class—the lawyers, journalists, doctors, teachers, etc. and they had a wider perspective and a larger agenda.

Political Associations before congress

The Bangabhasha Prakasika Sabha was formed in 1836 by associates of Raja Rammohan Roy.

The Zamindari Association, more popularly known as the ‘Landholders’ Society’, was founded to safeguard the interests of the landlords. Although limited in its objectives, the Landholders’ Society marked the beginning of an organized political activity and use of methods of constitutional agitation for the redressal of grievances.

The Bengal British India Society was founded in 1843 with the object of the collection and dissemination of information relating to the actual condition of the people of British India and to employ such other means, of peaceful and lawful character as may appear calculated to secure the welfare, extend the just rights and advance the interests of all classes of our feliow subjects.

The East India Association was organized by Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London to discusss the Indian question and influence public men in England to promote Indian welfare.

The Indian League was started in 1875 by Sisir Kumar Ghosh with the object of “stimulating the sense of nationalism amongst the people” and of encouraging political education.

The Indian Association of Calcutta superseded the Indian League and was founded in 1876 by younger nationalists of Bengal led by Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose, who were getting discontented with the conservative and pro-landlord policies of the British Indian Association. The Indian Association of Calcutta was the most important of preCongress associations and aimed to

create a strong public opinion on political questions

unify Indian people on a common political programme

The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was founded in 1867 by M.Mahadeo Govind Ranade and others, with the object of serving as a bridge between the government and the people.

The Bombay Presidency Association was started by Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta and K.T. Telang in 1885.

The Madras Mahajan Sabha was founded in 1884 by M. Viraraghavachari, B. Subramaniya Aiyer and P. Anandacharlu.

Creation of the Congress

A. O. Hume was instrumental in establishing it. WC Banerjee was the first president. The first meeting took place in Bombay shifted from pune due to outbreak of plague.

Hume was chosen as he was of high ideals. The leaders cooperated with Hume as they didn’t want to arouse official hostility at this period. They felt that the colonial state wouldn’t suppress an organization if its founder was a British.

The other opinion was that Hume had hoped to create the congress as a safety valve for public discontent against the British but this theory was rejected by Bipan Chandra..

The artisans and craftsmen were ruined due to the free trade with Britain that flooded India with machine made goods. They lost their markets abroad due to high tariff on exports.

They also lost their domestic market of princes, chieftains and zamindars.

British rule had affected scholarly and priestly classes as they lost their traditional patrons viz. princes, landowners and bureaucratic elite who were ruined by the British. Finally being under a foreigner rule humiliated all sections of the society.

The rebellions were scattered; their effects were local. They leaders were mostly interested in restoring the traditional order rather than freedom from foreign rule. They were not capable of fighting the organized British rulers. The repression to these was the main reasons why revolt of 1857 didn’t spread to south India or eastern and western India. Even though these rebels failed they had historical importance and inspired the future national movements.

Objectives of the congress:

1. The early leaders of the congress wanted to build a secular nation. And lay foundation of a secular and democratic national movement.

2. Second objective was to create a common political program or platform around which political workers could gather and conduct their political activities, educating and mobilizing people around all India basis.

3. Internalization and indigenization of political democracy.

4. To develop and propagate anti colonial nationalist ideology

Solved Question Papers

Q.Consider the following statements :

1. The first woman President of the Indian National Congress was Sarojini Naidu.

2. The first Muslim President of the Indian National Congress was Badruddin Tyabji

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (UPSC CSAT 2015)


  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2

    Ans . B

    First woman President of INC was Annie Besant.

    First male President was W.C. Banerjee. First Muslim male President was Badruddin Tyabji.

    Chapter Review

    Q1:Surendranath banerjee and Anand Mohan Bose founded

    • Indian Association
    • East asian association
    • bombay association
    • none

    Q2:The first meeting of Congress took place in Bombay shifted from pune due to

    • british oppression
    • arrest of leaders
    • demand by senior members of Indian association
    • outbreak of plague

    Q3:safety valve theory was rejected by

    • Tilak
    • Lala lajpat rai
    • Bipan chandra
    • Nehru

    Q4: Objectives of the congress

    • to build a secular nation
    • lay foundation of a secular and democratic national movement
    • create a common political program
    • all

    Q5:First Indian president of Congress was

  • WC Banerjee
  • Pherozshah mehta
  • GK Gokhale
  • Tilak