The early years of the 20th century witnessed the emergence of a new and younger group within the congress. They were known as Extremists. They were critical of the old leadership and advocated the adoption of 'Swaraj' as the goal of the congress. They represented aggressive Indian nationalism and became responsible for the split of the congress in 1907 at Poona. Several factors contributed to the rise of extremism or militant nationalism in the National Movement.

Firstly, the true nature of the British rule in India was exposed and the nationalist leaders realised that the British wanted to rule India either by sword or diplomacy. The writings of Dinshaw wacha, R.C. Dutta and Dadabhai Naoroji proved that the impoverishment of the people of India was due largely to the deliberate policy of the British government. Reforms introduced by the Indian Council Act of 1892 were found to be hopelessly inadequate and totally disappointing.

Secondly, the younger elements within the congress were dissatisfied with the achievements of the Congress during the first twenty years. They had lost faith in the British sense of justice and fairplay. They were strongly critical of the methods of peaceful and constitutional agitation popularly known as 3 Ps-petition, prayer and protest. Being dissatisfied with the ideology and techniques of the Moderates, they advocated the adoption of European revolutionary methods to meet European imperialism.