The first session of the Indian National Congress was held at the Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College, in Bombay, on 28 December, 1885. Seventy-two delegates from different parts of India attended the meeting.
The renowned Barrister of Bengal Womesh Chandra Bonerjee was the elected President of the first session, Womesh Chandra Bonerjee, however, is famous- by the name ‘W. C. Bonerjee’.
In his Presidential address Womesh Chandra appealed to the members to build up the Indian National Congress as a real political organization.
Between 1885 and 1905 the most prominent leaders of the Indian National Congress were : Dadabhai Naoraji, Surendranath Banerjee, Firozshah Mehta, Romesh Chandra Dutta, Mahadev Govinda Ranade, Modan Mohan Malaviya, etc.
In the annual session of the Congress resolutions were adopted on various matters. During the period under reference the Indian National Congress demanded from the British Government reforms in constitutional, economic, administrative and other matters.
b. Demand for Constitutional Reforms:
Between 1885 and 1892 the humble demands made by the Congress were-to increase the power of the Legislative Councils and to include elected representatives in the Central and Provincial councils.
That the British government paid no respect to these demands of the Congress is evident from the Indian Councils Act of 1892. That is why the leaders of the Congress dubbed the Act of 1892 to be a ‘hoax’.
c. Demand for Economic Reforms:
The Indian National Congress also raised its voice of protest against the plunder of India’s wealth by the British. In order, to prevent the drainage of wealth the Congress leaders demanded Indianization of government services and economy in administrative and military expenditures.
They also wanted that the British Government should come forward to improve the economic condition of the Indian peasantry and plantation labourers.
The Congress leaders also demanded of the British Government the abolition of the salt-tax.
Thus, the nationalist leaders under the banner of Indian National Congress while highlighting the destructive aspects of the British rule, also came forward with some specific suggestions as remedial measures to the British Government.
d. Demand for Administrative and Other Reforms :
In the sphere of administrative reforms the Indian National Congress put emphasis on the demand for Indianization of public services.
For, the Congress leaders realized that the real improvement of the Indians would never be possible through the British officials as they were indifferent to the interests of the Indian people Apart from this, the Indian National Congress adopted resolutions in which the national leaders urged upon the British Government to introduce various reforms such as : spread of education among the common people, development of agricultural banks to save the peasants from the clutches of the money-lenders, annulment of the discriminatory Arms Act, etc.