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In 1926, when it contested the general elections to the Imperial and Provincial Legislatures for the first time, the Indian National Congress was embroiled in a protracted struggle between rival factions for control of the Congress organisation. Electoral rivalries exacerbated existing factionalism and highlighted the often contradictory aims, methods and interests pursued by competing groups within the loose framework of the nationalist movement. If the non-cooperation campaign of 1920–21 had witnessed a national awakening and initiated a more aggressive phase in the history of Indian nationalism, the unity imposed upon the Congress proved fragile and temporary. The curious alliance of forces which had adhered to the Congress in the more confident days of the movement and which were mixed so promiscuously with the survivors of the old Congress, exposed the organisation and its leadership to greater strain in sustaining the united front once the impulse of the agitation had subsided and provincial, regional and sectarian forces began to re-assert themselves with a vengeance. The price of a tenuous unity in 1920 was increased competition and disruption within the Congress throughout the decade; a whirlpool of differences which, to many contemporaries in the thick of events, threatened to overwhelm it.
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