It was retired English civil servant,A.O.Hume,who mobilised leading intellectuals of the time and, with their corporation, organized the first session of the Indian national Congress at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Bombay in December 1885. As a prelude to this, two sessions of the Indian national conference had being held in 1883 and 1885, which had representatives drawn from all major towns of India.Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose were the main architects of the Indian national conference.The first session of the Indian National Congress was attended by 72 delegates and presided over by Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee.Hereafter,the Congress met every year in December,in a different part of the country each time.
Some of the great presidents of the Congress during this early phase were Dadabhai Naoroji,Badruddin Tyabji,Pherzoeshah Mehta,P.Anandacharlu,Surendranath Banerjee,Romesh Chandra Dutt,Bal Gangadhar Tilak,Sisir Kumar Ghosh,Motilal Ghosh,Madan Mohan Malaviya,G.Subramania Aiyar,etc. In 1890,Kadambini Ganguly,the first woman graduate of Calcutta University,addressed the Congress Session,which symbolised the commitment of the freedom struggle to give the women of India their due status in national life. There is a theory that Hume formed the Congress with the idea that it would prove to be a `safety valve` for releasing the growing discontent of the Indians.To This end,he convinced Lord Dufferin not to obstruct the formation of the Congress.
The extremist leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai believed in the `safety valve’ theory.Even the Marxist historian’s ‘conspiracy theory’was an offspring of the ‘safety valve’ notion.For exampleR.P. Dutt opined that the Indian National Congress was born out of a conspiracy to abort a popular uprising in India and the bourgeois leaders were a party to it.
Aims and Objectives of the Congress
The main aims of the Indian National Congress in the initial stage were to:
(i)found a democratic,nationalist movement (ii)politicise and politically educate people.
(iii) Establish a movement headquarters.
(iv) Promote friendly relations between nationalist politicians in different parts of the country.
(v) Development and dissemination of the idealism of anti-colonial nationalists.
(vi) Develop and precede the general government’s requirement to unite people around a common economic and political program.
(vii) Foster and promote and nurture Indian nationhood.