Partition of Bengal
Curzon’s partition of Bengal is considered to be a turning point in the history of the Congress. By his time, the Congress was already an anti-British force. The Viceroy saw that the British capital of Calcutta was a hot-bed of politics. He knew that Bengal was much advanced in political consciousness.
The partition was devised to gain political benefits. Lord Curzon divided Bengal to break the unity of the Bengali people. Worse than that, he divided Bengal in such a way that Eastern Bengal became a Muslim majority province.
The partition of Bengal is an example of the ‘Divide and Rule’ policy of the British. Thus, the partition that took place on 16th October, 1905 showed two motives of Curzon:
- Firstly, he wanted to check the Growth of nationalism.
- Secondly, he introduced Hindu-Muslim communalism.
Therefore, the National Congress at once stood to oppose the partition. Mass agitation began and `Vande Mataram’ became the slogan of the nation.
Very soon, the movement took a new turn in the name of Swadeshi Movement. It was decided to boycott the British goods. The educated Indians knew of the economic evils of the British rule. The industrial goods of England flooded the Indian markets. Everywhere millions of people used British cloth. In fact, the Indian village and cottage industries died away because of British goods. The nationalists decided to boycott the British goods. People threw away foreign goods and burnt the British cloth. The Swadeshi Movement resulted in a great political awakening.
The beginning of an organized movement was a great thing in itself. But, it led to a temporary crisis in the Congress. Some prominent Congress leaders came to believe that India needed a revolutionary movement to fight against the foreign rule. The leader of that school of thought was Bal Gangadhar Tilak. On the other hand, some other prominent leaders believed that political and constitutional concessions should be gained by negotiation with the Government. The leader of that thought was Gopal Krishna Gokhale. The followers of Tilak were described as extremists. The followers of Gokhale were known as moderates. The difference between the two groups became open during the Swadeshi Movement, particularly in the year 1907.