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A History of the Indian Liberal Party

BY Dr. B. D. SHUKLA, M.A., Ph.D., Professor and Head of the Department of History, TY S S D. College, Kanpur






Evolution of Modern Liberalism and its Creed: 5

LIBERALISM IN THE 19TH CENTURY—The Industrial Revolution: 11


Dr. B. D. Shukla, M.A., Ph.D., has done me the honour of asking me to write a foreword to this work, which is a revised version of his thesis for the Ph.D. degree of the Agra University. I do so with particular pleasure because it seems to me that political piety clamours for a due recognition of the national services of the Indian “Moderates” or Liberals which Dr. Shukla has attempted in this work.

I am sure that discerning readers will find Dr. Shukla’s work to be a valuable addition to the extant literature on the political history of India during the period under survey in the work. So far as I am aware, no integrated account of the origins of Indian Liberalism, their ideology, their contributions to the political thinking and activity of the period has been attempted before hint. There are of course scores of works—monographs, biographies, collections of speeches and writings of the “moderate” leaders, and constitutional histories. But Dr. Shukla has concentrated on the work of the Indian Liberals as a group of political workers, and has, in my humble opinion, made a fair and just assessment of their services to the nation. I have no doubt that no student of the political history of the period can afford to ignore the work even though he might differ from any of Dr. Shukla’s conclusions.

The importance of the Liberal contribution to free India’s constitutional and political structure is apparent from the fact that we still maintain a close political relationship with Great Britain, our constitution is based on most of the ideas clear to the Indian Liberals, and the bulk of the politically-conscious citizens of India want basically to move along the lines chalked out by the Liberals. Where the Republic of India differs from that ideology is in its effort to establish a “Socialist Pattern of Society” in the country. It is still doubtful, though, how far the Congress can carry the country along with it in the realisation of these aims. The recent foundation of the “Swatantra” party, and indeed, the entire body of “Independents” in Indian politics to-day, represent the old ‘Liberal’ point of view in all fundamental aspects.

I think that both scholars and the general reader will find much of value in Dr. Shukla’s work, and would welcome its addition to our current political literature.

June 26, 1959 KC Bhatnagar


The present generation in India is apt to discount the services of the Liberal leaders of the Indian National Congress before the Gandhian era who had placed India on the road to political freedom. There is the same danger of their services as ministers and mediators since 1920 being relegated to the limbo of history as the inconsequential vapourings of the stooges of British Imperialism.

A comprehensive survey of the activities of these Liberal pioneers and heralds of Indian Swaraj was, therefore, not only desirable but overdue to acquire a proper perspective for the study of India’s recent social and political history. The present book is an humble attempt in this direction. It is the revised version of my thesis for the Ph.D. degree of the Agra University. The thesis was approved in 1955, but owing to certain unavoidable circumstances it could not see the light till now. It is hoped that this objective attempt at an assessment of the Liberal contribution to India’s struggle for freedom and her national reconstruction would be found helpful for the purpose.

In this work of piecing together the history of the Liberal Party, I have received great help from Sri K. C. Bhatnagar until lately Secretary of the U. P. Legislative Assembly who very kindly permitted me to work in the Assembly library and made all necessary reports available to me. I can never forget the help which I received from the late Sri S. R. Bajpai, the Secretary of the Servants of India Society, Allahabad. He very kindly allowed me the free use of the Servants of India Society Library, Allahabad. He handed over the keys of the library to me to work there and lent me ungrudgingly 40 to 50 books at a time to take home for more leisurely use. In him I have found the true ‘Servant’ of the Society founded by Gokhale in 1905. My thanks are due also to the authorities of the Lucknow University Library, Imadudaullah Public Library, Lucknow, S. I. S. Library, Lucknow, Allahabad University Library, Allahabad Public Library, Leader Press Library, Allahabad, National Library, Calcutta and other local libraries for their ready help in supplying me with the necessary material.

I am grateful to the late Acharya Narendra Derma, Dr. H. N. Kunzru, ex-Justice P. N. Salmi, Mr. R. Zutshi, the editor of the Leader, Mr. K. P. Kaul, the late Dr. Brijendra Swarup, M.L.C. for giving me some lust hand information about the Liberal Party and its work.

I ant deeply indebted to Dr. Ishwari Prasad, Professor Emeritus of the Allahabad University, Dr. M. P. Sharma of the Nagpur University. Dr. Nand Lal Chatterjee of the Lucknow University for their valuable suggestions which I have utilized in this work. My grateful thanks are also due to Principal L. C. Tandon of my college who helped me at every step generously in the completion of this work.

I must finally express my gratitude to my supervisor and guide, Prof. Kali Shnaker Bhatnagar, under whose fostering care I have been able to ‘accomplish this task. Without his ungrudging help and guidance, my task would have been more difficult than it has been; and I am not. indulging in any more formality in expressing my gratitude to hint. I am Further grateful to him for his condescending to write a foreword to this book.

I am deeply indebted to Professor S. R. Misra, M.A. and Shri S. N. P. Jaiswal, M.A. of English and Geography departments respectively and Shri H. M. Garg for their kind assistance in the preparation of the index of this book.

I must also express my gratitude to Sri H. Ghosh, the Managing Director of the Indian Press. Allahabad for his voluntarily undertaking, and showing personal interest in. the publication of this book.

I apologise to readers in general for certain spelling mistakes left out probably owing to inadvertent proof-reading and it is with this end in view that an errata is being affixed.


October, 1959 B. D. SHUKLA
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