Why did the ‘Moderates’ failed to carry conviction with the nation about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century?

Sample Answer


 The Moderate leaders in the Indian National Congress failed to achieve their political goals by the end of the 19th century due to several reasons.


Lack of clear goals

  • The Moderates had no concrete vision of self-government and focused on gradual constitutional progress. This lacked clarity and inspiration.
  • For example, they petitioned for participation in law-making councils with limited scope. 

Elitist nature

  • They were predominantly educated, upper-class professionals divorced from the masses.
  • For instance, their resolutions were in English and had little impact on ordinary Indians.

Faith in British government

  • They had an excessive faith in British goodwill and fair play.
  • However, the British adopted measures like the partitioning of Bengal that went against the Moderate hopes.  

Laissez-faire approach

  • Their methods involved petitioning, deliberating and remonstrating which yielded negligible results.
  • For example, most of their demands were ignored in the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms.

Rise of extremists

  • The rise of Extremists like BG Tilak who advocated swaraj, swadeshi and mass agitation diminished the Moderates ‘influence.
  • For instance, the younger nationalists mocked the Moderates as ‘political mendicants’.


The Moderates failed due to their vague goals, elitist character, over-reliance on the British, ineffective techniques and the ascent of the Extremists –  who captured the imagination of the public with their energetic leadership. The nation sought radical changes which the Moderates could not provide.

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