against the partition of Bengal. The extremists wanted to extend the
movement from Bengal to all over the country. They also wanted to extend
the boycott of foreign goods to eventually, all kinds of association with the
colonial rulers. The moderates were opposed to all these ideas. Matters nearly
came to a head at the Calcutta Congress in 1906, over the question of its
presidentship. A split was avoided by choosing Dadabhai Naoroji, who was
respected by all the nationalists as a great patriot. Four compromise
resolutions on the Swadeshi, Boycott, National Education and Self-
Government demands were passed. Throughout 1907, the two sides fought
over different interpretations of the four resolutions. By the end of 1907, they
were looking over each other as their main political enemy.
Course of the Split
Role of Hardliners of Both Sides The extremists were convinced that the
battle of Independence has begun as the people had been roused. They felt
that this was the time for the big push and the moderates were a big drag on
the movement. Most of them, led by Aurobindo Ghosh, thought that the time
has come to part ways with the moderates, push them out of the leadership of
the Congress, and split the organisation if the moderates could not be
deposed. Most of the moderates led by Pherozeshah Mehta, were no less
determined on a split. To remain with the extremists was, they felt, to enter
dangerous waters. They were afraid that the Congress, built carefully for the
past twenty years, would be shattered. Government was bound to suppress
any large-scale anti-imperialist movement; why invite premature repression?
Attempts of Top Leadership at Reconciliation The main public leaders of
the two wings, Tilak (for the extremists) and Gokhale (for the moderates)
were mature politicians who had a clear grasp of the dangers of disunity in
the nationalist ranks. Tilak could foresee that a powerful national movement
could not be built at this juncture without the unity in the nationalist ranks.
His tactics was to organise massive support for his political line and force the
moderates to a favourable compromise. But having roused his followers in
Maharashtra and pushed on by the more extreme elements of Bengal, Tilak
found that he could not dismount from the tiger he found himself riding.
When it came to the crunch, he