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S K MITTAL^ IRFAN HABIB^
The Congress and the Revolutionaries in the 1920s
THE Indian National Congress was the biggest political organisation in the country. Under Mahatma Gandhi's leadership the Congress transformed itself into a fighting machine wedded to Swaraj, 'Dominion Status' and finally 'Complete Independence'. It remained in the vanguard of freedom struggle working overtly to achieve freedom from the British. The revolutionaries, although working covertly, fought with otourage and determination to wrest freedom from the British hands. The twin movements of the revolutionaries and the Congress, with all their differences of ideology, philosophy, ways and methods, were aimed at a common goal, i. e., thz achievement of freedom. However, they differed widely in the conception of freedom. In fact, the national movement in India takes two distinct forms. The revolutionaries of the 1920s represented the anti-imperialist stream and exhibited their uncompromising opposition to all forms of imperialism. For them national liberation meant political freedom as well as an end of economic exploitation and inequality, while for the other stream national liberation meant political freedom and economic compromise with imperialism. The two streams often mingled indistinguishably in the national movement.1
These two currents in the national struggle for freedom were, complementary in nature, strengthened each other and, undoubtedly, both played a significant role in mass awakening and national upsurge in India. "If Gandhi-Nehru (Congress) and the Socialist and Communist parties gave a decisive shape to the Indian freedom struggle, Lala HardayaPs Ghadr Party and later Bhagat Singh's Hindustan Socialist Republican Army and the countless sacrifices of brave revolutionaries had an equally decisive role to play."2
Before the emergence of Gandhi at the epicentre of Indian politics and as the el supremo of the Congress the revolutionaries discovered their fount of inspiration in the extremist 'trio' of the Congress—B. G. Tilak, B. C. Pal and Lajpat Rai.3 In fact, both shared many things in common. The national revolutionaries came from
*Reader in the Department of History, Meerut College, Meerut.
**Formerly a lecturer in history in D A V (P G) Colleee, Bulandshahr.