Surat Split 1907 – Reason, Effects of Surat Split 1907 | Download Surat Split UPSC Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Surat Split of the Indian National Congress resulted in the party’s division into two groups, i.e., the Moderates and the Extremists. The Moderates were in favor of Rash Bihari Ghosh, while the Extremists supported Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Surat Split of the Indian National Congress into two different groups proved to be a victory of the divide-and-rule policy of the British government. Extremists also endorsed boycotting British products as well as their governmental establishments; however, moderates opposed them.

Moderates believed in the 3 Ps (Prayer, petition, protest); while the Extremists worked based on the 3S (self-reliance, sacrifice, and strong will). The Surat Split of 1907 was a significant event in Modern Indian History that affected the Indian struggle for freedom. Below you will learn about the Surat session, its background, the doctrine of moderates and extremists, its failure, the aftermath, and its broad effects on the Indian National Movement.

What is Surat Split?

Surat split is a national misfortune, wherein the extremists left Congress, adversely impacting the moderates as both were considered to be the brain and soul of the Indian nation. The Indian national movement was also believed to come to a deadlock for some time.

The Extremists’ principles and rebellious actions provided the Indian citizens with a new hope and power of opposing the British. In 1916, there was a reunion of Moderates and Extremists after 8 years at the Lucknow session.

Surat Split: Background

The moderates dominated the Indian National Congress from 1885 to 1905. They used several mediums, like delegations, memoranda, pamphlets, leaflets, meetings, prayers, petitions, etc., to portray their demands to the British Indian government.

Surat Split UPSC Notes

The Indian National Congress successfully expanded the legislative council by compelling the government to develop the Indian Council Act of 1892. However, the Act created dissatisfaction among Indians.

  • In 1907, the Indian National Congress held a meeting in Nagpur.
  • At that point, the extremists view that the name of the leaders should not be disclosed.
  • With the same policy as the existing extremists, new extremists came together who supported the ideology of Rash Bihari Ghosh.
  • With the fear that Bal Gangadhar would win the favor, the meeting was moved to Bal Gokhale from Nagpur to Surat, but Surat was Tilak’s home province.
  • So he was unable to preside over the meeting.
  • Following this incident, the extremists became outrageous when Tilak was restricted from speaking at the meeting.
  • As a result of this anger, the meeting was cancelled by the Indian National Congress.
  • However, both these groups unitedly patched these differences for a short period.
  • Later, the INC has permanently divided into two groups in 1907.

Causes of Surat Split 1907

According to Curzon, Congress was shaking and was on the verge of its fall in the early 20th century. But he wished for a peaceful demise, and the Surat split came out as a reality to his dream.

The important points regarding the causes of Congress split in 1907 are as follows:

  • The Surat Split resulted in a bounce to the INC as the division of the Indian National Congress into the moderates and extremists acted as an opportunity for the British government.
  • Moderates did not favor Swaraj and were disinclined to pass its motion.
  • At the same time, Extremists follow the Swadeshi and Swaraj’s notion of the Arya Samaj.
  • During the formation of the INC, most of the leaders of Congress opposed Swaraj’s notion.
  • Later, in the early 20th century, Swaraj became the primary demand of prominent leaders like G.K. Gokhale and Dadabhai Naoroji.

Effects of Surat Split of Congress

Swaraj was introduced in the INC by Gokhale, the President of the Indian National Congress, at the INC’s Banaras Session in 1905. Later, Dadabhai Naoroji used the word Swaraj in 1906 at the Calcutta Session.

In1907, the Extremists placed two significant objectives in the Surat Session, and these were:

  • It demanded Swaraj’s resolution.
  • Presidency of Lala Lajpat Rai in the INC.

However, the Moderates did not accept these objectives. They supported Rash Behari Ghosh and demanded his presidency. As a result of the difference in opinion, the elections (for the first time) were held for the Presidentship of the Indian National Congress.

Unfortunately, the Moderates were successful in expelling the extremists from the INC. They got complete control of the Congress’s affairs, and Rash Behari Gosh was selected as the President of the Surat Session.

Aftermath of Surat Split of Congress

The British government used its Divide and Rule policy to split the Congress. This proved to be an opportunity for the British government as moderates were under their control. In addition, the grant of a separate electorate to the Muslim community during the Congress fall proved an advantage for the British over the Indian National Congress.

Reservations on Surat Split

During the Surat Split of Congress, certain reservations were made because of the following reasons:

  • At first, a separate organization was not formed by the Extremists.
  • They weren’t much different from the Moderates in their activities.
  • However, when the Extremists were separated from them, the British took it as an opportunity to settle the Extremists as a different party.
  • British imprisoned Tilak for six years for the offence of preaching nationalism.
  • Along with this, Bipin Chandra Pal became a moderate, and Lala Lajpat Rai was drummed out from Punjab.
  • The extremists and the moderates joined hands again and reunited in 1916 as Congress during the Lucknow Session.
  • There was no division, but extremists still did not participate in the activities of Congress.

Failures of the Surat Split

The distinct perspectives and interpretations between the moderates and the extremists aggravated and resulted in a split in the Indian National Congress.

The background of the Surat split 1907 began during the anti-partition movement. The major failures of the Surat Split are supposed to be the following:

  • Both the Moderates and Extremists developed dissimilar working approaches.
  • The moderates ripped down the resolution of Swaraj and induced a sense of belief in the British Government.
  • The British were able to suppress the Nationalists as the majority and minority thought began evolving inside the INC.

Difference between Moderates and Extremists During Surat Split

Through Moderates and Extremists functioned together to fight against partition of Bengal, there was controversy and debate between the two in 1905-1907. While Moderates believed in Moderate Politics and Liberalism, Extremists strongly believed that the British were not interested in improving the lives of Indian citizens.

A brief difference between moderates and extremists can be interpreted depending on their stances and philosophical thinking.

Moderates vs Extremists

Moderates Extremists
They wanted to restrict the boycott part of the movement to Bengal.

Moderates saw their support centre among the upper-middle-class and Zamindars.

They wanted to expand Swadeshi Movement from Bengal to other regions of India.

They intended to widen the idea of boycotting foreign goods and non-cooperation with the British Government.

Moderates followed passive resistance, including philanthropy, prayer, plea, and persuasiveness. Extremists chose militant tactics, including assassination.
The members were A.O. Hume, Dadabai Naoroji, etc. The members were Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, etc.

Surat Split 1907 Short Note

The Surat Split was a turning point moment in the history of the Nationalist movement in India. It symbolized a change in the guidelines of the Government and perspective towards moderates. The Surat Split was the direct reason Minto-Morley Reform of 1909. As a consequence of the Surat Split, both parties became significantly weakened. Extremists experienced official suppression, while liberals were left by their own people.

Surat Split UPSC

The Surat split is termed a national calamity. The withdrawal of the extremists from Congress harshly impacted the moderates, and the national movement also came to a deadlock for some time. The Extremists’ principles and revolutionary movements provided the citizens with new hope and power to combat the British.

This topic of the Surat Split 1907 is important from the perspective of the civil services examination, which falls under GS Paper 1 (Mains) and GS Paper 1 (Prelims) and particularly in the section of the History syllabus of UPSC. Aspirants preparing for IAS Exam must solve Surat Split UPSC questions and can also study History topics through specific History Books for UPSC.

Surat Split MCQs

Question: Which of the following Congress moderate leaders is known as ‘The Lion of Bombay’? (a) Pherozeshah Mehta, (b) Bal Gangadhar Tilak, (c) Gopal Krishna Gokhale, (d) Badruddin Tyabji
Answer: Pherozeshah Mehta

Question: At the time of the Surat split session, who was the president of the Indian National Congress? (a) Bal Gangadhar Tilak, (b) Rash Behari Ghosh, (c) Mahatma Gandhi, (d) Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Answer: Rash Behari Ghosh

Question: Which one of the following movements has contributed to a split in the Indian National Congress, resulting in the emergence of ‘Moderates’ and ‘Extremists’? (a) Non- Cooperation Movement, (b) Quit India Movement, (c) Civil Disobedience Movement, (d) Swadeshi movement
Answer: Swadeshi movement

Question: Four resolutions were passed at the famous Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress in 1906. The question of either retention or rejection of these four resolutions became the cause of a split in Congress at the next congress session held in Surat in 1907. Which of the following was not one of those resolutions? (a) National Education, (b) Boycott, (c) Swadeshi, (d) Annulment of Partition of Bengal
Answer: Annulment of Partition of Bengal

Mains 2017 Question, GS Paper 1: Why did the ‘Moderates’ fail to carry conviction with the nation about their proclaimed ideology and political goals by the end of the nineteenth century?

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