Foundation of the Indian National Congress in 1885 is an event of utmost importance in the history of India. The origin of the Indian National Congress has been a matter of debate among the historians even today.
However, it may be mentioned here that the Indian National Congress was the culminating point of the politics of associations that had begun during the first half of the nineteenth century.
b. Foundation of the Indian National Congress:
It is known to all that Allan Octavian Hume, a retired Civilian, had convened the first meeting of the Indian National Congress in December in the city of Bombay.
And it was because of the initiative taken by Hume in founding the Indian National Congress that he has been called the ‘father of the Congress’.
It is also not a secret that Hume had consultation with Lord Dufiferin, the then Viceroy of India, regarding the formation of an all-India organization beforehand.
c. Different Opinions regarding its Origin:
It is now a pertinent question that why Hume in spite of his being an Englishman, took initiative in founding the Indian National Congress.
Hume himself has given an explanation. In his opinion, the discontented Indians at that time had been organizing a powerful rebellion against the foreign rulers.
Hume sought to avoid it by founding the Indian National Congress through which, he believed, the popular discontent could be channelized to peaceful direction.
This explanation about the aims of A. O. Hume in founding the Indian National Congress is known as the ‘Safety-valve Theory’.
d. Recent Opinion Regarding the Origin:
Modern historians, however, consider the ‘Safety-valve theory’ to be a small part of the truth. They are of the opinion that Hume’s role in founding the Indian National Congress has been unnecessarily exaggerated.
As a matter of fact, the credit for founding the Indian National Congress does not belong to any particular individual. Hume could organize the Congress as he had the support and co-operation of the leading personalities of that time.
The national leaders had accepted Hume’s leadership in the matter since he was free from any regional bias.
Moreover, they thought, if a retired civil servant like Hume remained at the helm of affairs of the Congress, the British government would not look upon their activities with suspicion.