Surat Split

The Surat Split was a major event in the history of the Indian independence movement. It occurred in December 1907, when the Indian National Congress (INC) split into two factions: the Moderates and the Extremists.

surat split
  • Extremists wanted the 1907 Congress session to be held in Nagpur with Tilak or Lala Lajpat Rai as President to reiterate Calcutta resolutions of swaraj, swadeshi, boycott and national education.
  • However, moderates under Gokhale and Pherozeshah Mehta wanted the session in Surat to exclude Tilak from presidency (as the leader from the host province could not be session president). They proposed the name of Rash Behari Ghosh as President and did not reiterate the Calcutta resolutions.
  • Rigid positions adopted by both the sides made Surat split inevitable. Congress was now dominated by Moderates and excluded militant elements from it. They declared Congress’s goal to achieve self-government within the British Empire with the use of constitutional means only.
  • Allahabad Conference, 1908: There was a formalisation of the split by amendment to the Constitution of Congress making Congress methods strictly constitutional. Congress aimed to bring about steady reform in existing system of administration. Congress reiterated its loyalty to British Raj and rejected the Bengal model of politics.
  • Impact of the split was that extremists failed to organise an effective movement and moderates lost touch with the younger generation of nationalists.  British strategy of Divide and rule was successful in rallying moderates and isolating the extremists.
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