The Home Rule Movement

  • After being released in 1914, Tilak sought re-entry into Congress. Annie Besant and Gokhale supported. But finally Pherozshah Mehta won and Tilak was not admitted.
  • Tilak and Besant decided to start the home rule movement on their own.
  • In early 1915, Annie Besant (and S Subramaniya Iyer) launched a campaign through her two newspapers, New India and Commonweal, and organized public meetings and conferences to demand that India be granted self-government on the lines of the White colonies after the War. From April 1915, her tone became more peremptory and her stance more aggressive.
  • At the annual session of the Congress in December 1915 it was decided that the extremists be allowed to rejoin the Congress. The opposition from the Bombay group has been greatly weakened by the death of Pherozshah Mehta.
  • Tilak and Annie Besant set up two different home rule leagues.
  • Tilak’s league was to work in Maharashtra (excluding Bombay city), Karnataka, the central provinces and Berar and Annie Besant’s league was given the charged of the rest of India.
  • Tilak was totally secular in nature. There was no trace of religious appeal. The demand for Home Rule was made on a wholly secular basis.
    • “Home rule is my birthright, and I will have it”
  • The British were aliens not because they belonged to another religion but because they did not act in the Indian interest
  • Tilak’s league was organized into six branches, one each in Central Maharashtrra, Bombay city, Karnataka, and Central Provinces, and two in Berar.
  • On 23rd July 1916, on Tilak’s sixtieth birthday the government sent a notice asking him to show cause why he should not be bound over for good behavior for a period of one year and demanding securities of Rs 60000
  • Tilak was defended by a team of lawyers led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He won. Tilak used the opportunity to further the Home Rule movement.
  • In Besant’s league, the main thrust of activity was directed towards building up an agitation around the demand for Home Rule. This was to be achieved by promoting political education and discussion.
  • Lucknow Pact: 1916 in the Congress Session at Lucknow. Also known as Congress League Pact. Extremists were accepted back in congress. An agreement was reached between Muslim League and Congress.
  • The turning point in the movement came with the arrest of Annie Besant in June 1917
  • There was wide agitation and many leaders joined the league.
  • The government agreed to grant self rule but the timing for such a change was to be decided by the government alone.
  • After the great advance in 1917, the movement gradually dissolved.
    • The moderates were pacified by the government’s assurance of reforms after Besant’s release.
    • The publication of scheme of government reforms in July 1918 further created divisions. Many rejected it while others were for giving it a trial.
    • Later, Tilak went to England to fight a case. With Besant unable to give a firm lead, and Tilak away in England, the movement was left leaderless.
  • Achievements of the movement
    • The achievement of the Home Rule movement was that it created a generation of ardent nationalists who formed the backbone of the national movement in the coming years.
    • The Home rule leagues also created organizational links between town and country which were to prove invaluable in later years.
    • By popularizing the idea of self-government, it generated a widespread pro-nationalist atmosphere in the country.
    • The movement set the right mood for the entry of Mahatma Gandhi and take the leadership.

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