The leaders of the early phase of the Indian National Congress in course of time came to be known as the Moderates. They were called Moderates because another trend developed in the Congress that was known as Extremism.
However, despite the fact that the Moderates achieved little their contributions to the cause of Indian awakening were immense.
(1) The early Congress leaders exposed the true nature of the British rule in India.
(2) They created strong public opinion and thereby aroused national spirit amongst the Indian people.
(3) By launching intensive propaganda in Britain they educated the British public opinion.
(4) To them belonged the credit of organizing an all-India organization in which people living in different parts of the country could interact with one another.
It may be said that the method of agitation adopted by the Moderates had generated from the faith in the ‘true’ British rule.
The early nationalists sincerely believed that the ‘true’ British rule would be of immense help both for the Indians as well as for the British.
They thought, if the British sense of justice could be roused and the problems of the Indians placed before the British, they would come forward to redress the grievances and fulfill the demands of the Indians.
History, however, proved otherwise. On the failure of the Moderates’ method of agitation there emerged a group within the Congress-a group whose demands were more vigorous and method of agitation more extreme.
This group of leadership came to be known as the ‘Extremists’.
It may also be pointed out that the early Congress leaders came from upper stratum of the society. They were high officials and barristers by profession.
They failed to come in touch with people. Naturally the movement that they had begun took no root among the masses.
The yearly sessions of the Indian National Congress remained limited to discussions of some burning issues amongst very few individuals.