Many Indian leaders felt that popular pressure should be brought to bear upon the govt if any real concessions were to be extracted. Hence real mass political movement was necessary. War had meant heavy taxation and roaring prices of the daily necessities of life. The people as a result were getting ready to join any militant movement of protest. Consequently the war years were years of intense nationalist political agitation. But this mass agitation had to be carried on outside the Congress for the party was dominated by the moderates. Therefore two Home Rule Leagues were started in 1915-1916 one under the leadership of Tilak and the other under the leadership of Annie Besant and S Subramaniyam Iyer.The two Home Rule Leagues carried out intense propaganda all over the country in favour of the demand for the grant of Home Rule or self govt to India after the war. The other prominent leaders who joined the agitation for Home Rule were Motilal Nehru and C.R Das.
The Govt resorted to repression.Mrs Annie Besant was arrested and many newspapers were banned. The war period also saw the growth of revolutionary movement. The growing nationalist feeling in the country and the urge for national unity produced two historic developments at the Lucknow Session of the INC in 1916. Firstly the two wings of the Congress were reunited. The old controversies had lost their meaning and the split in the congress had not benefited either group. At Lucknow the Congress and the All India Muslim League sank their old differences and put up common political demands before the govt.Congress accepted the principle of separate electorates. This unity is popularly known in history as the Lucknow Pact. Unfortunately this unity was based on the notion of bringing together Hindus and Muslims as separate entities. This left the way open to the future resurgence of communalism in Indian politics.