The Indian National Congress was formed when 72 delegates from all the presidencies and provinces of India met at Bombay from 28 to 30 December 1885.
Allan Octavian Hume, a retired British Indian Civil Servant played a leading role in the formation of the Congress. He established contact with some of the most important Indian Leaders all over the country and received their cooperation in forming the Congress.
Some of the Important leaders who attended the first session of Congress which was held at the Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College, were Dadabhai Naoroji, Kashinath Trimbak Telang, Pherozeshah Mehta, S Subramania Iyer, P Ananda Charlu, Dinshaw Edulji Wacha, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, G Subramania Iyer, M Viraraghavachari, N G Chadavarkar, Rahimtullah M Sayani and Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee. An important leader who was absent was Surendranath Banerjee.
He had convened a National Conference around the same time at Calcutta.
The Significance of the formation of the first national political organisation in India was immediately realised. Barely a week after the session ended, a Calcutta newspaper, The Indian Mirror wrote, “The First National Congress at Bombay forms an important chapter in the history of British rule in India. The day on which it open, namely, 18th December 1885, will form a red-letter day in the annals of the national progress of the native races. It is the nucleus of the future parliament of our country. And we lead to the good of inconceivable magnitude for the countrymen.” The first President of the INC was Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee.
The Objective of the Congress, as stated by him where to bring together leaders to different parts of the country to remove the all possible prejudice of race, religion and region, and to decide important problems facing the country and to decide on the activities that the Indian leaders should take up.
The Congress passed nine resolutions which demanded changes in British policies and reforms in administration.
The early phase of Indian National Congress
After the first session in Bombay, the Indian National Congress met every year in the month of December, usually at a different place each time.
The second session, attended by about 450 delegates was held in Calcutta in 1886.
Surendranath Banerjee and other leaders of the Indian Association joined the Congress now. The delegates attending this and a later session where now elected by various conferences which where held at local levels. The first session of the Congress had been described as Indian First National Assembly and the nucleus of future parliament for our country.
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In the course of time it did became the representative organisation of the people of the country. The second session of the Congress was presided over by Dadabai Naoroji. He was one of the foremost leaders of the Congress for over 20 years. During his stay in Britain, he had formed an association to win over the British leaders and the public in support of the demands of Indian people. He became the president of the Congress thrice. He also elected to British parliament and promoted the cause of India in that body. He was one of the earliest Indian leaders to hold the view that the poverty of Indian people was the result of the exploitation of India by British. And the drain of India’s wealth to British. He was known as the grand old man of the India.
From this inception, the Congress stood for the unity of the people, irrespective of religion and other differences. The decision to hold this session at a different place every year also had the same objective. Stressing this Badruddin Tyabji, who was the president of the Madras session in 1887, said in his address that this congress is composed of the representatives, not of any one class, or community of India, or of one part of India, but of all the different communities of India.
During this early year, the Indian National Congress had among its leaders some Englishmen. The 1888 session held at Allahabad was attended by 1300 delegates. It was presided over by George Yule, an Englishmen. Other Englishmen who became Congress were William Wedderburn, Alfred Webb, and Henry Cotton. Some other Congress Presidents during this period from 1885 to 1905 were Pherozeshah Mehta, Surendra Nath Banerjee, Rahmatullah M Sayani, Ananda Charlu, Sankaran Nair, R C Dutt, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
This period also saw the beginning of the participation of women in the sessions of Congress. The Indian National Congress sessions became increasingly important in the political life of the country.