Consequently, at all the war conferences which were called to secure Indian help in the war effort the leaders demanded equal status for the Indians in the army, and other high positions.
In 1915 Congress proposed that Home Rule League should be started. Tilak was in sympathy with this idea. According to them, the Congress of those years war rather life less, and a more dynamic and popular association was needed to galvanise the Indian people.
For achieving of Home Rule, Balgangadhar Tilak formed a Home Rule League at Poona in April 1916. The objective of the League was declared as “attainment of Home-rule or self-government within the British empire by all constitutional means and to educated and organise public opinion in the country.
A little lather Mrs. Annie Beasant formed a similar Home Rule League at Madras on 15 September 1916. The main objective of her was to disentangle the nationalist extremist from the compromising alliance with the revolutionaries, to reconcile them to the position within the empire, and to bring them with the moderates into like in the united Congress.
Thus the year 1916 saw the Home Rule League carrying on an intensive propaganda in favour of Home Rule or self-government. In one of his speeches Tilak said “Home Rule is my birth right and I will have it”.
Mrs. Beasant argued that it was in the interest of British rulers to grant Home Rule to India. He also pleaded for full cooperation to the British Government so that she could win the war which was being fought to make democracy safe.
The two Home rule leagues worked in co-operation with each other and tried to vigorously plead the grant of Home Rule to India. The Government did not view the activities of the Home Rule League with sympathy and tried imposed restrictions and crush its activities.
In 1916 it instituted proceedings against Tilak for delivering objectionable speeches at the meetings of Home Rule League. He required furnishing a personal bond of Rs. 20,000 and two securities of Rs. 10,000 for his good behaviours for one year. On May 26, 1916 a securities of Rs. 20,000 from New India, a paper run by Annie Beasant.
In spite of negative attitude and restrictions from the Government the two Home rule league continued their propaganda work with full vigour and succeeded in making the Home rule league practically success in Indian politics.
Following the internment of Anne Beasant and her two associates, B.P. Wadia and Arumadale, the Home Rule movement attained all India character.
A wave of indignation spread throughout the country against this action. Protest meetings were held all over the country to protest against the repression by the Government. Even M.A. Jinnah, the Muslim League leader joined the Home Rule league.
A joint meeting of the All-India Congress committee and the council of Muslim League was held in July 1917, which condemned the negative attitude of the Government and praised the work of Home Rule League.
It also made a representation to the viceroy and the Secretary of state for India pleading for grant of substantial instalment of self-government.
In April 1918, Tilak along with other prominent political leaders took part in the Delhi war conference. While the Conference was considering the adoption of a resolution for recruitment of Indians in the army, Tilak suggested that it would be better to promise Home rule in the resolution with a view arose the enthusiasm of the people of India.
But this proposal did not find approval of the Governor. So Tilak walked out of the meeting. On 16 June 1918, the Home rule league celebrated the Home rule day and passed resolution disapproving the methods and measures of the Government for the utilisation of man power and resources of India.
Mean-while, the publication to the Mesopotamian commission, the Government of India severely criticised. Mr. Montague an ex- under-secretary of state for India supported Indian demand for an immediate declaration of British policy.
He said “If you want to use loyalty (of the Indians people) you must give them that higher opportunity of controlling their own destinities, not merely by councils which cannot act, but by control, by growing control of the executive itself.”
But the deteriorating war situation in Europe, England was keen on enlisting the support of Indians. Meanwhile, the British Government impressed upon the Government of India to release Mrs. Beasant and her associates. On 20 August 1917 Montague the secretary of state for India made the historic declaration regarding the ultimate goal of the British rule in India.
The declaration said, “the policy of His Majesty Government with which the Government of India are in complete accord, is that of the increasing association of Indian in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive integral part of the British Empire”.
But the Montague Chemsford report failed to satisfy the Home rule leaders. Mrs. Annie Beasant said that reforms were,” Unworthy of England to offer and India to accept.” The Indian National Congress also described it as inadequate and disappointing.
But the Home rule movement soon died because Mrs. Beasant overnight became a near-loyalist in the late 1917 after Montague’s promise of responsible government and Tilak became increasingly involved in libel suit against Valentine Chirole and left for England to fight his case in September 1918. Above all, emergency of Gandhi totally eclipsed the Home rule movement.
The Home Rule movement played a significant role in the history of national struggle. The leaders of the Home rule place before the Government a concrete proposal of self-government. It also produced a new set of political leaders were who prepared to devote their full time and energy the cause of national struggle.
Above all, the movement created a strong mass base, which is evident from large member of people, took a pledge to continue as a member even if it was declared illegal by the Government. Above all the Home rule league for the first time exerted foreign pressure to achieve Indian Independence.