Lucknow Session of the Indian National Congress (1916)

Lucknow Session of the Indian National Congress (1916)

The History of the Lucknow Pact

  • The Muslim League was a reasonably moderate organization with a pro-British stance when it was founded in 1906.
  • Following World War I, Viceroy Lord Chelmsford sought reform proposals from Indians in exchange for Indian assistance for the British war effort.
  • Through a joint Hindu-Muslim platform, the Muslim League, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, hoped to advocate for constitutional amendments.
  • Jinnah was a member of both parties at the time, and he was heavily involved in the Pact.
  • This was the first time both the INC and the Muslim League’s leaders had met in a joint session.
  • The leaders conferred and prepared a set of demands for constitutional revisions during the conference.
  • In October 1916, 19 elected Indian members of the Imperial Legislative Council sent the Viceroy a memorandum calling for reforms.
  • Leaders from both parties gathered in Calcutta in November 1916 to discuss and alter the ideas.
  • Finally, the INC and the League accepted the accord at their respective annual meetings in Lucknow in December 1916. The Lucknow Pact was born out of this.
  • Sarojini Naidu dubbed Jinnah “the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity” in recognition of his efforts.

The Lucknow Pact proposed reforms.

  • India’s self-government.
  • The Indian Council is abolished.
  • Separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary.
  • The Secretary of State for Indian Affairs’ salary will be paid from British money rather than Indian funds.
  • Muslims will be given 1/3rd representation in the central government.
  • For each province, the number of Muslims in the provincial legislatures will be determined.
  • Separate electorates for all communities until everyone demands an unified electorate.
  • Implementation of a weighted representation scheme for minorities (it implied giving minorities more representation than their share in the population).
  • Increasing the Legislative Council’s term to five years.
  • Indians will make up half of the Imperial Legislative Council.
  • On the basis of adult franchise, all elected members will be elected directly. 4/5ths of provincial legislature members will be elected, and 1/5th will be nominated.
  • Members of the Legislative Council will choose their own President.

Readmission of Extremists to Congress

The Extremists led by Tilak were finally readmitted to the Congress fold during the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress, which was presided over by a Moderate, Ambika Charan Majumdar. This reunion was made possible by a number of factors:
I Previous debates were no longer relevant.
(ii) Both the Moderates and the Extremists saw that the rift had resulted in inaction on the political front.
(iii) Annie Besant and Tilak had worked hard to bring the two women together. To assuage Moderate fears, Tilak emphasized that he favored administrative reform rather than overthrow of the government. He also spoke out against acts of violence.
(iv) The reunion was helped by the deaths of two Moderates, Gokhale and Pherozshah Mehta, who had spearheaded the Moderate opposition to the Extremists.

The Congress and the Muslim League have reached an agreement in Lucknow.
Another key event in Lucknow was the coming together of the Muslim League and the Congress, and their presentation to the government of joint demands. This occurred at a time when the Muslim League, which was now headed by younger militant nationalists, was moving closer to the Congress’ goals and becoming more anti-imperialist.

Why Has the League’s Attitude Changed?

The League’s position shifted for a variety of reasons:
I The Muslims were enraged by Britain’s failure to assist Turkey (ruled by the Khalifa, who claimed religious and political leadership over all Muslims) in her conflicts in the Balkans (1912-13) and with Italy (during 1911).
(ii) The annulment of the partition of Bengal in 1911 enraged those Muslims who had backed the partition.
(iii) Some Muslims were angered by the British government’s rejection to establish a university at Aligarh with the authority to connect colleges throughout India.
(iv) The younger League members were moving away from the Aligarh school’s restricted political orientation and toward stronger nationalist politics. The Muslim League pledged to “operate with other groups towards a form of selfgovernment suited to India, provided it did not clash with its core purpose of protecting the interests of Indian Muslims” at its Calcutta session (1912). As a result, the objective of self-government, which was similar to that of the Congress, pulled the two sides closer together.
(v) During World War I, the government’s mistreatment of young Muslims enraged them. Al Hilal of Maulana Azad and Mohammad Ali’s Comrade were suppressed, while leaders such as the Ali brothers, Maulana Azad, and Hasrat Mohani were imprisoned. The ‘Young Party’ became anti-imperialist as a result of this.

The Pact’s Characteristics

The Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the Muslim League is seen as a watershed moment in the nationalist movement for independence. While the Muslim League promised to present the government with common constitutional demands, the Congress accepted the Muslim League’s position on separate electorates, which would remain in place until any one community wanted joint electorates. Muslims were also given a set number of seats in the legislatures at both the national and provincial levels. The demands were as follows: the government should declare that Indians will be granted self-government as soon as possible; representative assemblies at the national and provincial levels should be expanded with an elected majority and given more powers; the term of the legislative council should be five years; the salaries of the Secretary of State for India should be paid by the British Treasury rather than by Indian funds; and half of the meagre meagre meagre meagre meagre meagre meagre meagre meagre meagre mea

Critical Remarks

Despite the fact that the legislature would elect half of the executive, the executive as a whole would not be accountable to the legislature. The legislature could not dismiss the elected part of the government, but because crucial issues like the budget required legislative approval, a constitutional deadlock was almost certain. The Congress seemed to want this kind of executive-legislative relationship in any postwar constitutional reform program. The demands of the Lucknow Pact were essentially simply an extended version of the Morley-Minto reforms. While the Congress and the Muslim League made a concerted attempt to present a united front, the Congress’ embrace of the premise of separate electorates meant that the Congress and the League merged as different political bodies. This was a watershed moment in the Muslim League’s growth of the two-nation thesis. Second, while the leaders of the two organizations met, no effort was made to bring the people from the two villages together. The controversial decision to embrace the notion of separate electorates, on the other hand, reflected the Congress’s sincere intention to calm minority worries of majority dominance. Furthermore, the reunion sparked a great deal of excitement among the attendees. In August 1917, the government decided to appease the nationalists by stating its desire to allow Indians self-rule in the future, as stated in Montagu’s declaration.

The Lucknow Pact’s Results

  • In the national political arena, the Lucknow Pact provided the idea of Hindu-Muslim unity. However, it was simply a fleeting impression.
  • In India, communal politics was effectively formed when the parties agreed on a separate communal electorate.
  • The INC implicitly agreed that India was divided into two communities with opposing interests as a result of this arrangement.
  • This partnership propelled the Muslim League, which had previously been marginalized in Indian politics, to the foreground alongside the Congress Party.


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