The early nationalist leaders included W.C. Banerjee, Rashbehari Ghosh, Surendranath Banerjee and R.C. Dutt from Bengal; Dadabhai Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Pherozshah Mehta, Justice M.G. Ranade from Maharashtra d Gujarat; P.R. Naidu, Subramania Iyer, Ananda Charlu from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya from Uttar Pradesh and liberal Englishmen like Hume and Wedderburn.
Beliefs of the early nationalists
i) The early nationalists had faith in sense of justice, fair play, honesty and integrity of the British. ii) It was their hope that the British would grant 'Home Rule' to Indians. iii) They believed that the British rule had many benefits. For eg. it aided in cleansing social ills like sati, untouchability. iv) They relied on constitutional and peaceful methods to achieve their aims.
Criticism of the early nationalists
The early nationalists have been criticised on the following grounds: i) The methods used by the early nationalists of passing resolutions and sending petitions were criticised as inadequate. ii) They failed to realise that British and Indian interests clashed with each other. iii) The early nationalists failed to draw the masses into the mainstream of the national movement.
Sessions of the Congress
The first session of the Congress was held under the presidentship of W.C. Bonnerjee and was attended by 72 delegates from all parts of India at Mumbai from December 28 to 31, 1885. Thereafter, the INC met every year in December in different parts of the country.