During the period from 1885 to 1905, the Congress was led and controlled by the moderate nationalists. The famous among them were Dadabhai Nairobi (The Great Old Man of India) Surendra Nath Bannerji, Ferozeshah Mehta, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, M.G. Ranade and Pt. Madan Mohan malaviya. They were so called because their demands were simple and they used constitutional and peaceful methods to realise them.
Demand of the Petitioners or Moderates: -
The Petitioners or moderates desired that the government should introduce a number of reforms. They wanted a large share in the government of their country. They also demanded the development of modern industries, Abolition of salt tax, etc. They urged the government to undertake welfare activities of the state. In short, they wanted self-government or swaraj within the British Empire.
The moderates had great faith in peaceful and constitutional agitation. They carried on their propaganda through the press and annual sessions. They organised public opinion and placed their demands before the authorities through meetings, speech, resolutions and petitions. They also sent deputations and commissions to England to propagate their viewpoint.
Contribution of the moderates:-
Some people criticise the policy and programme of the moderates and are of the view that they failed to achieve anything. But their contribution towards the progress of the national movement cannot be ignored. They played an important role in organising public opinion and placing the demands of the people before the government. They were man of wisdom, character and patriotism. They tried to unite the people. They did useful work in national awakening, political...