Modern India Module 3: Origin of Indian National Congress


  • The Indian National Congress was formed at a national convention held at Bombay in December 1885.
  • A.O. Hume, a former British civil servant and a political liberal is considered as the founder of INC. He toured across India, met various political leaders and persuaded them to meet at this national conference. He is also known as the father of Indian National Congress.
  • Initially, it was decided to meet at Poona and Poona Sarvajanik Sabha offered to host this event. But because of a plague outbreak, venue was shifted from Pune to Bombay.
  • The first session of INC was held from December 28 to 31, at Gokul Das Tejpal Sanskrit College, Bombay.
  • It was attended by 72 delegates from different parts of the country. Prominent among them were: A.O.Hume (Simla), Dadabhai Naoroji, K.T.Telang, Pherozeshah Mehta, D.E. Wacha, B.M.Malabari, N. G. Chandavarkar (from Bombay), G.G.Agarkar, W.S. Apta (from Poona), W.C.Bonnerjee, Narendra Nath Sen (from Calcutta), G.Subrahmaniya Iyer, M. Viraraghavachariar, P.R. Naidu (from Madras) etc. Majority of them from Bombay.
  • A.O. Hume was the first person to address this session.
  • Dadabhai Naoroji suggested the name ‘Congress’ for this organization, which he adopted from North American history.
  • They decided to hold congress session in every year at different parts of the country and to choose a president to lead the organization for a year. The president should be from a region other than the one where the session was being held.
  • W.C. Bonnerjee, a barrister from Calcutta became the first president of Congress. A.O. Hume served as the General Secretary of Congress till he left for England in 1894.
  • Total nine resolutions were presented in the first session of INC, and the first Resolution demanding the appointment of Royal Commission for India was presented by G. Subrahmaniya Iyer.

Important Persons at the time of Congress Formation

  • British Monarch : Queen Victoria
  • British Prime Minister : Lord Salisbury
  • Viceroy of India : Lord Dufferin
  • Governor of Bombay : Lord Reay

Two Theories about Birth of Congress 

  • Safety Valve theory – Proposed by William Wedderburn in his biography of A.O. Hume, 1913 (PSC answer: Lala Lajpat Rai, in his book Young India)
  • Lightning rod theory – Proposed by Gopalakrishna Gokhale


  • Holiday recreation : B.G.Tilak
  • Begging Institute : Aurobindo Ghosh
  • Three day Thamasha: Ashinikumar Dutt
  • Mouthpiece of a Microscopic Minority : Lord Dufferin
  • Congress should distinguish between begging and claiming rights: B.G.Tilak
  • Indians could not achieve success if we croak once in a year: B.G.Tilak
  • Congress playing with bubbles: Bipin Chandra Pal
  • Congress is in reality a civil war without arms: Sayyed Ahmmed Khan
  • English knowing upper class affair : Jawaharlal Nehru (on early Congress)


  • Administrative reform by appointing more Indians in higher posts in civil services (Indianisation of civil services)
  • Include Indians in Viceroy’s executive Council.
  • Enlarge and empower legislative council with more Indian members.
  • Reduce Military expenditure
  • Abolish India Council of Secretary of State for India
  • Repeal discriminatory laws against Indians

Opposition to Congress

  • Sayyed Ahmmed Khan, an influential Muslim religious reformer opposed the participation of Muslims in the congress and given a call for a boycott of Congress. He believed that the organization is anti-British and it will negatively affect the Muslim interests.
  • He founded United Patriotic Association in 1888 which included Muslims as well as Hindu members, all of whom were opposed to the Congress.  It aimed to develop close ties between the Muslim community and the British Raj.
  • In 1893 he formed the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental Defence Association of Upper India, confining its membership to Muslims and Englishmen.


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