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Pre-Congress Political Organisations

Bengal Presidency

The Bangabliusha Praknsika Sabka was formed in 1836 by associates of Raja Rammohan Roy.

The Zamindari Association, more popularly known as the ‘Landholders’ Society’, was founded to safeguard the interests of the landlords. Although limited in its objectives, the Landholders’ Society marked the beginning of an organised political activity and use of methods of constitutional agitation tor the redressal of grievances.

The Bengal British India Society was founded in 1843 with the object of “the collection and dissemination of information relating to the actual condition of the people of British India… and to employ such other means of peaceful and lawful character as may appear calculated to secure the welfare, extend the just rights and advance the interests of all classes of our fellow subjects”.

In 1851, both the Landholders’ Society and the Bengal British India Society merged into the British Indian Associa­tion. The Association sent a petition to the British Parliament demanding inclusion of some of its suggestions in the renewed Charter of the Company, such as:

  • Establishment of a separate legislature of a popular character
  • Separation of executive from judicial functions
  • Reduction in salaries of higher officers
  • Abolition of salt duty, abkari and stamp duties.

These were partially accepted when the Charter Act of 1853 provided for the addition of six members to the Governor-General’s council for legislative purposes.

The East India Association was organised by Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London to discuss the Indian question and influence public men in England to promote Indian welfare. Later, branches of the association were started in prominent Indian cities.

The Indian League was started in 1875 by Sisir Kumar Ghosh with the object of “stimulating the sense of nationalism amongst the people” and of encouraging political education.NThe Indian Association of Calcutta superseded the Indian League and was founded in 1876 by younger nationalists of Bengal, led by Surendranath Banerjea and Ananda Mohan Bose, who were getting discontented with the conservative and pro-landlord policies of the British Indian Association.

The Indian Association of Calcutta was the most important of pre- Congress associations and aimed to:

  • Create a strong public opinion on political questions, and
  • Unify Indian people on a common political programme.

Branches of the association were opened in other towns and cities of Bengal and even outside Bengal. The membership fee was kept low in order to attract the poorer sections to the association.

Bombay Presidency

The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was founded in 1867 by Mahadeo Govind Ranade and others, with the object of serving as a bridge between the government and the people.

  1. Viraraghavachari, G. Subramaniya Iyer, Ananda Charlu and others formed the Madras Mahajan Sabha in 1884.

Pherozeshah Mehta, K.T. Telang, Badruddin Tyabji and others formed the Bombay Presidency Association in 1885.

Madras Presidency

In 1884, the Madras Mahajan Sabha was founded by M. Viraraghavachari, B. Subramaniya Aiyer and P. Anandacharlu.

The East Indian Association was organised by Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London to discuss the Indian question and to influence British public men to promote Indian welfare. Later he organised branches of the Association in prominent Indian cities.

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