In 1916, both the League and the Congress held their sessions simultaneously at Lucknow. Both parties together signed and adopted the joint scheme of political reforms. This agreement came to be known as the 1916 Lucknow Pact.
Causes Leading to the Signing of the Lucknow Pact of 1916
The Main Causes Leading to the Signing of the Lucknow Pact of 1917 are
The Sultan of Turkey was regarded as the ‘Caliph’ or the religious head of the Muslims. Most of the Muslim sacred places were situated within the Turkish Empire. In the First World War, Britain was fighting against Turkey. This led to a wave of indignation among the Indian Muslims. The latter thus supported the Congress against the British government in their efforts to gain self-government in India.
Many political activities which occurred within the country angered the Indian Muslims who took an anti-British stand. The annulment of the Partition of Bengal, release of Bal Gangadhar Tilak from jail, arrest of prominent Muslim leaders under the Seditious Meeting Act and the spread of nationalist ideas by Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali brought the Muslim League and the Congress closer to each other.
Changes in the Objective of the Muslim League:
At the time its formation, the Muslim League had a pro-British attitude. However, later, the League demanded ‘a system of self-government under the aegis of the British crown’. This led to renewed cooperation between the Muslim League and the Congress. Besides the above factors, Annie Besant and Tilak played a prominent role in bringing the two organizations together. This led to the signing of the historic Lucknow Pact in 1916.
Significance of the Lucknow Pact 1916
- The Lucknow Pact of 1916 led to Hindu–Muslim unity. While Congress accepted the scheme of separate electorates for the Muslims, the Muslim League accepted the principle of election and majority rule.
- The signing of the Lucknow Pact also reunited the Early and Assertive Nationalists (both wings of the Congress were split in the 1907 session at Surat).
- The unity between the Muslim League and the Congress strengthened the Indian National Movement. Till now, the government was repressing the national movement by following the policy of ‘divide and rule’.
- The British government realized that during the war years of the First World War, it was necessary to pacify Indians to garner their support during the First World War. Thus, they announced the Declaration of 20 August, in which they promised to gradually develop self-government institutions in the country.