The Indian National Congress was founded in 1885 with the goal of influencing British policy for India. While initially focused on economic reforms, the INC evolved to become a major advocate for independence from Britain.
As early as 1907, the INC became an active participant in India’s struggle for self rule. While the INC purported to represent all Indians, the Muslim minority in the country became increasingly uncomfortable with the Hindu majority. This prompted many Muslims to withdraw from the INC and led to the formation of the Muslim League. Although the two political parties began as rivals, they shared a mutual goal in their desire to see British influence over India come to an end. Both parties supported sending Indians to fight for Britain in World War I. It was widely believed that by supporting the war effort, the Indians were earning the right to independence from Britain. However, no such offers were forthcoming from the British when the war ended. In the 1920s, Mohondas Gandhi spearheaded the INC’s passive resistance campaign for freedom of the press and political expression. The INC went on to play a large role in the extremely difficult and sometimes bloody wrangling that led to the formation of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.