had to go with the more extreme leaders like
willful autocrat like Pherozeshah Mehta. He, too, knuckled under pressure.
Unruly Incidents at Surat The Congress session was held on 26
December, 1907 at Surat, on the banks of the river Tapti. The extremists were
excited by the rumours that the moderates wanted to scuttle the four Calcutta
resolutions. The moderates were deeply heart by the ridicule and venom
poured on them in mass meetings held at Surat on the previous three days.
The delegates, thus, met in an atmosphere surcharged with excitement and
anger. To force the moderates to guarantee that the four resolutions would be
passed, the extremists decided to object to the duly elected President for the
year, Rash Behari Ghosh. Both sides came to the session prepared for a
confrontation. In no time, the 1600 delegates were shouting, coming to blows
and hurling chairs at each other. In the meantime, some unidentified person
hurled a shoe at the dais which hit Pherozeshah Mehta and Surendranath
Banerjea. The police came and cleared the hall. The Congress session was
over and the only victorious party at the end of the day were the rulers.
Formalisation of the Split Tilak had seen the coming danger and made last
minute efforts to avoid it. But he was helpless before his followers. The
suddenness of the Surat fiasco took Tilak by surprise. He now tried to undo
the damage. He sent a virtual letter of regret to his opponents, accepted Rash
Behari Ghosh as the President of the Congress and offered his cooperation in
working for Congress unity. But Pherozeshah Mehta and his colleagues
won’t relent. They thought they were on a sure wicket. They continued
indulging in their own foolish beliefs. They gave up all radical measures
adopted at the Benares and Calcutta sessions of the Congress, spurned all
overtures for unity from the extremists and excluded them from the party.
Government Crackdown The Government immediately launched a
massive attack on the extremists. Extremist newspapers were suppressed.
Tilak, their main leader, was sent to Mandalay jail for six years. Aurobindo
Ghosh, their ideologue, was involved in a revolutionary conspiracy case and
immediately after being judged innocent, left politics and settled down in
French Pondicherry and took up religion. B.C. Pal temporarily retired from
politics and Lala Lajpat Rai left for Britain in 1908. After 1908 the national
movement as a whole, declined. But while the upsurge was gone, the aroused
nationalist sentiments did not disappear. The people waited for the next