The Congress Safety Valve Theory

The Congress Safety Valve Theory

Though a failure, the 1857 revolt was instrumental in being a catalyst to inspire the revolts to come - a prequel for the things to come. The reason for failure being lack of participation from the intelligentsia class, lack of support, lack of funds and use of traditional weapons. The sepoy and peasant munity could not withstand the planned attacks, efficient communication mechanism, nationwide network and disciplined leadership of the britishers. Although scattered and isolated revolts continued, no movement could gather up the momentum and British attention like the 1857 revolt.

The britishers feared that the mass dissatisfaction amongst the peasant and sepoys might spread to other classes of society with backing from the missionaries and the intelligentsia. This prompted for arrangement of a safety valve to supress tyhe revolts and mitigate the risk of another munity. The britishers understood that the hegemony would eventually collapse if an uprising of the scale of 1857 would start again. Lord Dufferin, the then viceroy of India wanted to create a mitigation plan to avoid such a revolt. He took help from Allen Octavian Hume and charted out a plan to establish an organization which would act as a 'Safety Valve' between the British imperialism and Indian nationalist intelligentsia. This was thought to dilute the Indian resentment and sentiment of revolt against the hegemony. The aim was to divert the minds of the Indians from acts of physical violence against the imperialism. On 28 December 1885 , the first meeting of Congress with presence of 72 members and Wyomesh Chandra Banerjee as the president.
With members mostly from Bombay and Madras precedencies, the INC was Hindu dominated in its initial stage. The British head count was limited to 3 including Hume.

It is said that Indian intentions to form an organization such as INC would have been annulled. Had it not been for A O Hume and Annie Beasant's stimulus, such an organization was a distant dream at that time. However, as the nationalist sentiment grew, INC was a fillip for a stage to discuss issues of national significance and to get a greater share in decision making process of the government.

It’s noteworthy that the Congress 'safety valve' theory is seen as a conspiracy theory to suppress the popular sentiment against congress and create an anti-incumbency factor against Congress.