Q. The Indian National Congress split in December 1907. Almost at the same time, revolutionary terrorism made its appearance in Bengal. The two events were not unconnected. Discuss.
A. By 1907, the Moderates had exhausted their historical role. Their failures were too numerous,
a) They lacked faith in common people, did no work among them and so failed to acquire any roots among them
b) They did not organize any all-India campaign and when one such came up during Swadeshi and Boycott they weren‟t its leaders
c) Their politics was incumbent on the political and economic reliefs they would be able to secure from the British but they did not have much to show for it.
The Extremists had made a sharp attack on the Moderates, emphasizing the role of masses and the need to go beyond propaganda and agitation. They advocated persistent opposition to the government and a militant programme of passive resistance and boycott. They demanded selfsacrifice from the youth.
They talked and wrote about direct action, but failed to find forms through which all these could find practical expression.
And so the youth were led to „the politics of the bomb‟. The revolutionary youth decided to copy the methods of the Irish nationalists and the Russian nihilists. They decided to organize the assassination of unpopular British officials to strike terror into hearts of the rulers, arouse patriotic instincts and inspire them to defy authority.
Each assassination, and, if it so happens, a subsequent trial, would be „propaganda by deed‟.
So, a steadily increasing number of young men turned to this form of political struggle.
In 1904, VD Savarkar organized Abhinav Bharat – a secret society of revolutionaries; after 1905, several newspapers openly advocated revolutionary terrorism; 1908 – Prafulla Chaki and Khudi Ram Bose did a failed assassination attempt on the unpopular judge of Muzzafarpur;
revolutionary societies came up in the entire country – Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar, the popular ones – to carry out assassinations, and Swadeshi dacoities to raise funds for purchase of arms, etc., culminating in the failed assassination attempt on Viceroy Hardinge by Rash Behari Bose and Sachin Sanyal.
In all, 186 revolutionaries were killed or convicted between 1908-18.