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Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari (Tamil: சக்ரவர்த்தி ராஜகோபாலாச்சாரி) (10 December 1878 - 25 December 1972), informally called Rajaji or C.R., was an Indianmarker lawyer, freedom-fighter, politician, writer, statesman and leader of the Indian National Congress who served as the last Governor-General of India. He served as the Chief Minister or Premier of the Madras Presidency, Governor of West Bengal, Minister for Home Affairs of the Indian Union and Chief Minister of Madras state. He was the founder of the Swatantra Party and the first recipient of India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna. Rajaji vehemently opposed the usage of nuclear weapons and was a proponent of world peace and disarmament. He was also nicknamed the Mango of Salem.

Rajagopalachari was born in Thorapallimarker in the then Salem district and was educated in Central College, Bangaloremarker and Presidency College, Madrasmarker. In 1900 he started a prosperous legal practise. He entered politics and was a member and later President of Salem municipality. He joined the Indian National Congress and participated in the agitations against the Rowlatt Act, the Non-Cooperation movement, the Vaikom Satyagraha and the Civil Disobedience movement. In 1930, he led the Vedaranyammarker Salt Satyagraha in response to the Dandi March and courted imprisonment. In 1937, Rajaji was elected Chief Minister or Premier of Madras Presidency and served till 1940, when he resigned due to Britain's declaration of war against Germany. He advocated cooperation over Britain's war effort and opposed the Quit India Movement. He favoured talks with Jinnah and the Muslim League and proposed what later came to be known as the "C. R. Formula". In 1946, he was appointed Minister of Industry, Supply, Education and Finance in the interim government. He served as the Governor of West Bengal from 1947 to 1948, Governor-General of India from 1948 to 1950, Union Home Minister from 1951 to 1952 and the Chief Minister of Madras state from 1952 to 1954. He resigned from the Indian National Congress and founded the Swatantra Party, which fought against the Congress in the 1962, 1967 and 1972 elections. Rajaji was instrumental in setting up a united Anti-Congress front in Madras state. This front under C. N. Annadurai captured power in the 1967 elections.

Rajaji was an accomplished writer and made lasting contributions to Indian English literature. He is also credited with composition of the song Kurai Onrum Illai set in Carnatic music. He pioneered temperance and temple entry movements in India and advocated Dalit upliftment. Rajaji has been criticized for introducing the compulsory study of Hindi and the Hereditary Education Policy in Tamil Nadumarker. Critics have often attributed his pre-eminence in politics to his being a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Rajaji was described by Gandhi as the "keeper of my conscience".

Early life

Rajagopalachari was born to Chakravarti Iyengar and Singaramma on 10 December 1878 in a devout Vaishnavite Brahmin family of Thorapallimarker, a small village, near the industrial town hosur, in the Krishnagiri District of Tamil Nadumarker state. Chakravarti Iyengar was the munsiff of Thorapalli. According to popular folkore, while Rajaji was a child, an astrologer told his parents that their child would have the "fortunes of a king, a guru, an exile and an outcaste. The people will worship him; they will also reject him. He will sit on an emperor's throne; he will live in a poor man's hut."

Rajaji attended school in Hosurmarker and college in Madrasmarker and Bangaloremarker. He graduated in arts from Central College, Bangalore in 1897, and studied law at Presidency College, Madrasmarker in 1899. He started practising as a lawyer in 1900. When in Salem, Rajaji showed keen interest in social and political affairs.

Indian independence movement

Rajaji's interest in public affairs and politics began when he was elected to the government of the city of Salemmarker. In the early 1900s, he was inspired by Indian nationalist Bal Gangadhar Tilak. In 1917, Rajaji was elected Chairman of Salem municipality. As Chairman, he was responsible for the election of the first Dalit (outcaste) member of the Salem municipal government. Rajaji joined the Indian National Congress and became involved in the Indian independence movement. In 1908, he defended Indian freedom fighter P. Varadarajulu Naidu against charges of sedition. He participated in 1919 in the protests against the Rowlatt Act, which indefinitely extended emergency measures passed during World War One. Rajaji was a close friend of Indian nationalist V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, and was highly admired by Annie Besant, a supporter of Indian independence, and C. Vijayaraghavachariar, president of the Indian National Congress in 1920.

When Mahatma Gandhi entered the movement for Indian Indepdendance in 1919, Rajaji followed him. He participated in the Non-Cooperation movement and stopped practicing law. In 1921 he was elected to the Congress Working Committee and served as the General Secretary of the party.

When the Indian National Congress split in 1923, Rajaji was a member of the Civil Disobedience Enquiry Committee. He supported the old guard and opposed the council entry programme of the Swarajists.

Rajaji was one of Gandhi's chief lieutenants during the Vaikom Satyagraha, a movement to improve the lot of Hindu untouchables. It was during this time, that E. V. Ramasamy functioned as a Congress member under Rajaji's leadership. The two later became close friends and remained so till the end despite their political rivalry.

In the early 1930s, Rajaji emerged as one of the foremost leaders of the Tamil Nadu Congress. When Mahatma Gandhi organized the Dandi march in 1930, Rajaji broke the salt tax at Vedaranyammarker near Nagapattinammarker and was sent to prison. Rajaji was subsequently elected President of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee. When the Government of India Act was enacted in 1935, Rajaji was instrumental in getting the Indian National Congress to participate in the general elections.

Madras Presidency 1937-1940

The Indian National Congress was elected to power in 1937 election for the first time in Madras Presidency (also called Madras Province), a province of British India; with the exception of the six years when Madras was in a state of Emergency, ruled the Presidency until India became independent on 15 August 1947. Rajagopalachari was the first Chief Minister of Madras Presidency from the Congress party.

Rajaji's Cabinet
Portfolio Minister
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (Also Chief Minister)
Revenue Tanguturi Prakasam
Law and Education Paramasiva Subbarayan
Labour and Industries Varahagiri Venkata Giri
Local Administration Bezawada Gopala Reddy
Public Health and Religious Endowments Tiruvengimalai Sesha Sundara Rajan
Public Works Maulana Yakub Hasan Sait
Agriculture and Rural Development V. I. Munuswamy Pillai
Public Information S. Ramanathan Pillai

Rajagopalachari issued the Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act 1939 by which restrictions were removed on Dalits and Shanars entering Hindu temples. In the same year, the Meenakshi temple at Maduraimarker was also opened to the Dalits and Shanars.

Rajaji also introduced prohibition, and also a sales tax to compensate for the loss of government revenue that resulted from prohibition. Because of the revenue decline resulting from prohibition the Provincial Government shut down hundreds of government-run primary schools. Rajaji's political opponents alleged that this decision deprived many low-caste and Dalit students of their education. Rajaji's opponents also assigned casteist motives to his government's implementation of Gandhi's Wardha scheme into the education system.

Rajagopalachari's rule is largely remembered however for compulsory introduction of Hindi in educational institutions, which made him highly unpopular. This measure sparked off widespread anti-Hindi protests, which led to violence in some places. Over 1,200 men, women and children were jailed for participating in these protests. Two protesters, Thalamuthu Nadar and Natarasan, were killed. In 1940, Congress ministers resigned protesting the declaration of war on Germany without their consent, and the Governor took over the reins of the administration. The unpopular law was eventually repealed by the Governor of Madras on 21 February 1940. Despite the numerous shortcomings, Madras under Rajagopalachari was still regarded as the best administered province in British India.

Second World War

As soon as the Second World War broke out Rajaji resigned as Premier along with other members of his cabinet to protest the declaration of war by the Viceroy of India. Rajaji was arrested in December 1940 in accordance with the Defence of India rules and sentenced to one-year in prison. However, subsequently Rajaji differed in opinion over opposition to British war effort. He opposed the Quit India Movement that Gandhi had initiated in 1942 to pressure the British government to grant independence, and instead advocated dialogue with the British. He reasoned that passivity and neutrality would be harmful to India's interests when the country was threatened with invasion. He also advocated dialogue with the Muslim League, which was demanding the partition of India. He resigned from the party and the assembly following differences over resolutions passed by the Madras Congress legislative party and with the leader of the Madras provincial Congress K. Kamaraj.

With the end of the war came in 1945, elections were held in the Madras Presidency in 1946. Kamaraj, the President of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee backed Tanguturi Prakasam as the Chief Ministerial candidate to prevent Rajaji from coming to power. Rajaji, however, did not contest the elections and Prakasam was elected.

In the last years of the war, Rajaji was instrumental in negotiations between Gandhi and Jinnah. In 1944, he proposed a solution to the Indian Constitutional tangle. In the same year, Rajaji proposed that 55% be the "absolute majority" threshold for deciding whether a district should be a part of India or Pakistan, triggering a huge controversy among nationalists.

From 1946 to 1947, Rajaji served as the Minister for Industry, Supply, Education and Finance in the Interim Government headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.

Governor of West Bengal 1947-1948

When India attained independence on 15 August 1947, the British province of Bengal was divided into West Bengalmarker and East Bengal, with West Bengal becoming part of India and East Bengal part of Pakistanmarker. With the support of Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajaji was appointed the first Governor of West Bengal.

Rajaji was disliked by Bengalis for his criticism of Subhash Chandra Bose during the 1938 Tripuri Congress session. His appointment was unsuccessfully opposed by Subhash's brother Sarat Chandra Bose. During his tenure as Governor, Rajaji's priorities were dealing with refugees and bringing peace and stability in the aftermath of the Calcutta riots. He declared his commitment to neutrality and justice at a meeting of Muslim businessmen: "Whatever may be my defects or lapses, let me assure you that I shall never disfigure my life with any deliberate acts of injustice to any community whatsoever." Rajaji was also strongly opposed to proposals to include areas from Biharmarker and Orissamarker in the province of West Bengal. To one such proposal by the editor of an important newspaper, he replied: "I see that you are not able to restrain the policy of agitation over inter-provincial boundaries. It is easy to yield to current pressure of opinion and it is difficult to impose on enthusiastic people any policy of restraint. But I earnestly plead that we should do all we can to prevent ill-will from hardening into a chronic disorder. We have enough ill-will and prejudice to cope with. Must we hasten to create further fissiparous forces?" Rajaji was highly regarded and respected by Chief Minister Prafulla Chandra Ghosh and the state cabinet.

Governor-General of India 1948-1950

From 10 November 1947 to 24 November 1947, Rajaji served as Acting Governor-General of India in the absence of Lord Mountbatten of Burma, who was on leave in England to attend the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Mountbatten's nephew Prince Philip. Rajaji led a very simple life in the viceregal palace, washing his clothes and polishing his own shoes. Mountbatten was so impressed with Rajaji's abilities that when he was to leave India in June 1948 Rajaji was his second choice to succeed him after Vallabhbhai Patel. Rajaji was eventually chosen as the Governor-General when Nehru disagreed with Mountbatten's first choice, as did Patel himself. Rajaji was initially hesitant but accepted when Nehru wrote to him, "I hope you will not disappoint us. We want you to help us in many ways. The burden on some of us is more than we can carry." Rajaji served as Governor-General of India from June 1948 to 26 January 1950 and was not only the last Governor-General of India but the only Indian Governor-General of India.

By the end of the year 1949, it was assumed that Rajaji, already Governor-General, would continue as President. Backed by Nehru, Rajaji wanted to stand for the presidential election but later withdrew, due to the opposition of a section of the Indian National Congress mostly made up of North Indians who were concerned about Rajaji's non-participation during the Quit India Movement.

Union Home Minister 1951-1952

In 1950 Rajaji joined the Union Cabinet as Minister without Porfolio, at Nehru's invitation. In 1951 he was put in charge of Home Affairs, serving as the country's Home Minister for nearly 10 months. He warned Nehru about the expansionist designs of Chinamarker and expressed regret over the Tibet problem, his views being shared with his predecessor Sardar Patel. He also expressed concern over demands made to establish new linguistically-based states, arguing that they would generate differences amongst the people.

Madras State 1952-1954

In the 1952 elections the Congress Party was reduced to a minority in the State Assembly, and the coalition led by the Communist Party of India appeared to be in a better position to form the government. Governor Sri Prakasa nominated Rajaji to the Legislative Council without the advice of the Council of Ministers, and appointed Rajagopalchari as unelected Chief Minister. A further manoeuvre to secure a majority involved luring opposition Members of the Legislative Assembly to join the party. Nehru was furious and wrote to Rajaji that "the one thing we must avoid giving is the impression that we stick to office and we want to keep others out at all costs." Rajaji refused to contest a by-election and remained an unelected member. P.C. Alexander, a former Tamil Nadumarker and Maharashtramarker governor, has described these events as a serious constitutional impropriety.

During this period Potti Sriramulu called for the creation of a separate Telugu state, to be named Andhramarker. He went on an unconditional fast until his goal was achieved, dying as a result of the fast. Violent riots broke out in the Telugu areas of Madras State. Nehru had initially warned that this method of fasting to achieve administrative or political changes would put an end to democratic government but after Sriramulu's death, Nehru agreed to the demand for a separate state of Andhra although he refused to include Madras (now Chennaimarker) city in Andhra. The State of Andhra was formed out of Madras State in 1953, although Rajaji continued to be disengaged from issues surrounding the new state. Rajaji was accused of not intervening to end the fast or to provide medical help for Sriramulu, even though the fast had continued for over 50 days. Prior to his death only one other person, Jatin Das, had fasted to death in modern Indian history. In most cases fasters either gave up, were hospitalised or were arrested and force-fed.

Rajaji removed controls on foodgrains, and introduced a plan in which students had to go to school in the morning and then to learn the family vocation, such as carpentry or masonry, after school. It was initially implemented in the rural areas of the state, and was strongly opposed as casteist and dubbed Kula Kalvi Thittam (Hereditary Education Policy) by his close friend Periyar, who vehemently opposed it. This policy was widely criticized by members of his own party and by political opponents. The controversy led to Rajagopalachari's resignation in 1954. Although he claimed to have resigned on grounds of health, the widespread unpopularity of the government due to the Kula Kalvi Thittam is widely viewed as the cause.

On 15 August 1954, Rajagopalachari became the first recipient of India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.

Rajagopalachari's cabinet

  • Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari: Chief Minister, portfolios of public and police
  • A. B. Shetty: Minister of Health.
  • C. Subramaniam: Minister of Finance, food and elections
  • K. Venkataswamy Naidu: Minister of Religious Endowments and Registration.
  • N. Ranga Reddi: Minister of Public Works
  • M. V. Krishna Rao: Minister of Education, Harijan Uplift and Information.
  • V. C. Palanisamy Gounder: Minister of Prohibition
  • U. Krishna Rao: Minister of Industries, Labour, Motor Transport, Railways, Posts and Telegraphs and Civil Aviation.
  • R. Nagana Goud: Minister of Agriculture, Forests, Veterinary, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Cinchona
  • N. Sankara Reddi: Minister of Local Administration
  • M. A. Manickavelu Naicker: Minister of Land Revenue
  • K. P. Kuttikrishnan Nair: Courts and Prisons and Legal Department
  • Raja Sri Shanmuga Rajeswara Sethupathi: Minister in charge of house rent control.
  • S. B. P. Pattabhirama Rao: Minister in charge of rural welfare, commercial taxes and scheduled areas.
  • D. Sanjeevayya: Minister in charge of cooperation and housing.

  • The portfolios of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries, Cin-chona, Rural Welfare, Community Projects and National Extension Schemes were handed over to M. Bhaktavatsalam on 9 October 1953.
  • C. Subramaniam was given the additional portfolios of education, information and publicity.
  • V. C. Palaniswamy Gounder was put in charge of Veterinary, Animal Husbandry and Harijan welfare.

Formation of Swatantra Party

From 1954 to 1956, Rajaji withdrew from state politics and concentrated on his literary pursuits. He authored a translation of Kambar's Ramayana in English and followed it with English translations of the Sanskrit Ramayana and Mahabharata.

In 1956, Rajaji resigned from the Indian National Congress and formed the Congress Reform Committee along with some of his followers. He came to an understanding with his former adversary, Forward Bloc leader U. Muthuramalingam Thevar, in forming an anti-Congress front. The two parties contested the elections jointly. In September 1956, the Congress Reform Committee was renamed the Indian National Democratic Congress. In July 1957, Rajaji created the Swatantra Party. He attacked the license-permit Raj, the complex post-World War Two bureaucracy introduced by Nehru's government that regulated business activity, fearing its potential for corruption and stagnation notwithstanding public support for Nehru's government. He wrote in his newspaper Swarajya

Encouraging competition in industry and giving incentives for higher production are good for the public as well as for the private interests.
I want an India where talent and energy can find scope for play without having to cringe and obtain special individual permission from officials and ministers, and where their efforts will be judged by the open market in India and abroad.
...I want the inefficiency of public management to go where the competitive economy of private management can look after affairs.
...I want the corruptions of the permit-license-raj to go.
...I want the officials appointed to administer laws and policies to be free from pressures of the bosses of the ruling party, and gradually restored back to the standards of fearless honesty which they once maintained.
...I want real equal opportunities for all and no private monopolies created by the permit-license- raj.
...I want the money power of big business to be isolated from politics.
...I want an India where dharma once again rules the hearts of men and not greed.

Prominent individuals affiliated with the Swatantra Party included K.M. Munshi, Prof. N.G. Ranga, Minoo Masani, H.M. Patel, V.P. Menon and Maharani Gayatri Devi,Queen of Jaipur.

Beginning in the early 1960s the Congress base in Madras state began to erode. The decline was partly due to the entry of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam into the political arena, and partly due to increasing corruption in the Congress. Rajaji capitalized on the weakness of his adversary and strengthened the Swatantra Party.

Rajaji criticized India's use of military force against Goa. Referring to India's acts of international diplomacy, he said that India "has totally lost the moral power to raise her voice against the use of military power."

Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu

After independence the Indian government had declared in its Constitution that Hindi was to be the official language of the country, along with English, but because of objections in non-Hindi areas had allowed for a fifteen-year period for the requirement to be phased in. From 26 January 1965 onwards, Hindi was to be made the sole official language of the Indian Union and people in non-Hindi speaking regions were compelled to learn Hindi. This was vehemently opposed and just before Republic Day, severe anti-Hindi revolts broke out in Madras State. Rajaji reversed his earlier position in support of Hindi and took a strongly anti-Hindi stand in support of the protests. On 17 January 1965, he convened the Madras state Anti-Hindi conference in Tiruchirapallimarker. He angrily declared that the Part XVII of the Constitution of India which declared that Hindi was the official language should "be heaved and thrown into the Arabian Sea."

1967 elections

In 1967 the fourth general elections were held in Madras state. At the age of 89, Rajaji worked to forge a united opposition to the Indian National Congress by forming an alliance between the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Swatantra Party and the Forward Bloc. The Congress party was defeated in its first defeat in Madras in 30 years as the coalition led by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was elected to power. C. N. Annadurai became Chief Minister of Madras state, serving from 1967 to 1969. During this period he changed the name of the state to Tamil Nadu and introduced reforms in the administration. Annadurai died in 1969 and was succeeded by M. Karunanidhi.

The Swatantra party also did well in elections in other states and to the Lok Sabha, the directly elected lower house of the Parliament of India. It won 45 Lok Sabha members in the 1967 general elections and emerged as the single largest opposition party. It was the principal opposition party in the states of Rajasthanmarker and Gujaratmarker. It formed a coalition government in Orissamarker. It also had a significant presence in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar. In the mid 1960s it won nearly 207 legislative assembly seats all over India, compared to 153 for the Communists, 149 for the socialists and 115 for the Jan Sangh. But the Party started to disintegrate after the death of Rajaji. It finally merged with Charan Singh's Bharatiya Lok Dal in 1974.

Later years and death

In the 1971 Lok Sabha elections, Rajaji organized a united right-wing opposition to Indira Gandhi. The opposition once again created a major impact as it had during the 1967 elections. However, the Indian National Congress government was left unscathed and its majority had considerably increased compared to the 1967 elections, in large part because of the impact of Gandhi's Garibi Hatao anti-poverty program. In his later years, Rajaji was opposed to the repeal of prohibition in Tamil Nadu by the Karunanidhi government. As a result, the Swatantra Party withdrew its support for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam during the 1972 state elections and Rajaji strongly opposed some of the government's policies.

By November 1972, Rajaji's health began to decline. On 17 December 1972, a week after celebrating his 94th birthday, Rajaji was admitted to General Hospital with uraemia, dehydration and urinary infection. At hospital, he was visited by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, V. R. Nedunchezhiyan, V. V. Giri, Periyar and other state and national leaders. Rajaji's condition deteriorated in the following days as he frequently lost consciousness. Rajaji died at 5:44 p.m. on 25 December 1972 at the age of 94. His son C. R. Narasimhan was beside him at the time of his death reading to him verses from a Hindu holy book.


Rajaji married Alamelu Mangamma at a very early age. The couple had five children. His wife died when he was 37 and he took the sole responsibility of taking care of his children. Rajaji's son C. R. Narasimhan was elected to the Lok Sabha from Krishnagiri in the 1952 and 1957 elections and served as a Member of Parliament for Krishnagiri from 1952 to 1962. He later wrote a biography of Rajaji. Rajaji's daughter Lakshmi was married to Devdas Gandhi, son of Mahatma Gandhi.

Contributions to literature and music

Rajaji was an accomplished writer both in his mother tongue Tamil as well as English. He was the founder of the Salem Literary Society and regularly participated in its meetings. In 1922, he published a book Siraiyil Tavam (Meditation in jail) which was a day-to-day diary about his first imprisonment from 21 December 1921 to 20 March 1922.

In 1916, Rajaji started the Tamil Scientific Terms Society. This society coined new words in Tamil for terms connected to botany, chemistry, physics, astronomy and mathematics. At about the same time, he called for Tamil to be introduced as the medium of instruction in schools.

In 1951, Rajaji wrote an abridged retelling of the Mahabharata in English, followed by one of the Ramayana in 1957.[citation required] Earlier, in 1955, he had translated Kambar's Tamil Ramayana into English.[citation required] In 1965, he translated the Thirukkural into English.[citation required] He also wrote books on the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, Socrates, and Marcus Aurelius in English.[citation required] Rajaji often regarded his literary works as the best service he had rendered to the people. In 1958, he established the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Apart from his literary works, Rajaji also composed a devotional song Kurai Onrum Illai devoted to Lord Krishna. This song was set to music and is a regular in most Carnatic concerts. Rajaji composed a benediction hymn which was sung by M. S. Subbulakshmi at the United Nations General Assembly in 1967.


Rajaji with Periyar
In 1954 while Richard Nixon, then Vice President of the United Statesmarker, was undertaking a nineteen-country Asian trip he was lectured by Rajaji on the consuming emotional quality of nuclear weapons. Rajaji told Nixon that it was "wrong to seek the secret of the creation of matter. It isn't needed for civilian purposes. It is an evil and will destroy those who [try]'. Nixon apparently did not interpret this as anti-American, and reported no argument with Rajaji's ominous prophesy. Also, "... they discussed the spiritual life, particularly reincarantion and predestination. Nixon filled three pages of notes recording what the sage had told him, claiming in his memoirs thirty-six years later that the afternoon 'had such a dramatic effect on me that I used many of his thoughts in my speeches over the next several years.'"

He was invited to the White House by President Kennedy; perhaps the only civilian, not in power, ever to be accorded formal state reception. The two discussed various matters and it is said that the great Indian statesman tried to impress on the young President the folly of an arms race - even one which the US could win. At the end of the meeting President Kennedy remarked "This meeting had the most civilizing influence on me. Seldom have I heard a case presented with such precision, clarity and elegance of language".

E. M. S. Namboodiripad, a prominent Communist Party leader, once remarked that Rajaji was the Congress leader he respected the most despite the fact he was also someone with whom he differed the most. Periyar, one of Rajaji's foremost political rivals remarked that Rajaji was "a leader unique and unequalled, who lived and worked for high ideals". On his death, condolences poured in from all corners of the country. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India remarked:

Rajaji was regarded as a pioneer of social reform. He issued temple entry proclamations in the Madras Presidency and worked towards the upliftment of Dalits. He played a pivotal role in the conclusion of the Poona Pact between B. R. Ambedkar and the Indian National Congress and spearheaded the Mahabal Temple Entry in 1938. He was a staunch advocate of prohibition and was elected Secretary of the Prohibition League of India in 1930. When elected as Premier of Madras Presidency, he introduced prohibition all over the province. Prohibition was in vogue all over the province until its removal by M. Karunanidhi over thirty years later. Rajaji was also an active member of the All India Spinners Association.

Rajaji is also remembered for his literary contributions, some of which are considered modern-day classics. He also frequently wrote articles for Kalki and his own journal Swarajya.

Richard Casey, the Governor of Bengal from 1944 to 1946, regarded Rajaji as the wisest man in India. The best possible tribute to Rajaji was from Mahatma Gandhi who referred to him as the "keeper of my conscience".


Despite the fact that Rajaji was considered to be one of the most able statesmen in the national arena, his provincial and then, state administrations are believed to have fared badly. Critics opine that he completely failed to gauge the thoughts and feelings of the masses. His introduction of Hindi and the Hereditary Education Policy have been the target of extensive criticism. His anti-reactionary stance during the Quit Indian Movement and his "C. R. Formula" angered most of his colleagues in the Indian National Congress.

Although Rajaji's popularity at the regional level fluctuated greatly, it is believed that he was able to exercise his stranglehold over provincial politics mainly because he was favored by leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Critics feel that when the President of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee K. Kamaraj and a majority of the provincial leaders turned against him in the 1940s, Rajaji clung on to a position of influence in regional politics through support from his colleagues at the Centre.

Rajaji has always been the archetype of the Tamil Brahmin nemesis of the Dravidian movement. Deeply religious and a pious Hindu and follower of the Vedas and Upanishads, he was accused of being pro-Sanskrit and pro-Hindi, a stigma which Rajaji found difficult to erase despite his vehement protests against the imposition of Hindi during the Madras Anti-Hindi agitations of 1965. He was also accused of attempting to heavily Sanskritize Tamil vocabulary through the inclusion of a large number of Sanskrit words in his writings. His Hereditary Education Policy was seen as an attempt to reinforce Varnashrama dharma. His Indian nationalist and anti-secessionist leanings formed the inspiration for Periyar's coining of the term "Brahmin-Bania combine".


  1. Bakshi, Pg 1
  2. Ralhan, Pg 34
  3. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 199
  4. Caste in Indian Politics, Pg 116
  5. Rajagopalachari, Pg 149
  6. Kesavan, Pg 36
  7. Ralhan, Pg 31
  9. Ralhan, Pg 32
  10. Ralhan, Pg 36
  11. Ralhan, Pg 38
  12. Nixon, One of Us, Tom Wicker, New York: Random House, 1991. p.138
  13. Nixon, A Life, Jonathan Aitken. Regnery Publishing, Inc. p.228
  14. Ralhan, Pg 50


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Further reading

  • "Rajaji" by Kousigan (Tamil)
  • .

External links

Rajagopalachari, ChakravartiRajagopalachari, Chakravarti

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