The Gandhian Ideal and the Socialist Plan: Central Congress Politics 1933–7
As with their opponents in the Government of India, one of the greatest problems faced by the all-India Congress leadership had always been that of central control. The Congress had had a national organisation and discernible leaders and interests at the all-India level since the 1880s. But, once the national movement had developed into more than the representative of small provincial groups interested in influencing opinion in Britain, the devolution of provincial government and the multiplication of political issues within India limited the role of the centre. By the first world war the central organisation of the Congress had become little more than an extension of dominant provincial interests, with no distinctive role of its own. It was Gandhi’s rise to prominence after 1916 that swung some of the initiative back to the centre. In 1920 Gandhi managed to forge a temporary alliance of all sections of Congressmen, under his own leadership, to pursue non co-operation as an expression of disgust and frustration at the 1919 Government of India Act and at the politicians able to make use of it.
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