Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (10 December 1878 – 25 December 1972), informally called Rajaji or C.R., was an Indian politician, independence activist, lawyer, writer, historian and statesman. Rajagopalachari was the last Governor-General of India, as India soon became a Republic in 1950. Furthermore, he was the first Indian-born governor-general, since before him the posts were held by British nationals. He also served as leader of the Indian National Congress, Premier of the Madras Presidency, Governor of West Bengal, Minister for Home Affairs of the Indian Union and Chief Minister of Madras state. Rajagopalachari founded the Swatantra Party and was one of the first recipients of India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna. He vehemently opposed the use of nuclear weapons and was a proponent of world peace and disarmament. During his lifetime, he also acquired the nickname 'Mango of Krishnagiri'.
Rajagopalachari was born in the village of Thorapalli in the Krishnagiri district of the Madras Presidency (now the Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu) and educated at Central College, Bangalore, and Presidency College, Madras. In 1900 he started a legal practice that in time became prosperous. On entering politics, he became a member and later President of the Salem municipality. He joined the Indian National Congress and participated in the agitations against the Rowlatt Act, joining the Non-Cooperation movement, the Vaikom Satyagraha, and the Civil Disobedience movement. In 1930, Rajagopalachari risked imprisonment when he led the Vedaranyam Salt Satyagraha in response to the Dandi March. In 1937, Rajagopalachari was elected Premier of the Madras Presidency and served until 1940, when he resigned due to Britain's declaration of war on Germany. He later advocated co-operation over Britain's war effort and opposed the Quit India Movement. He favoured talks with both Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League and proposed what later came to be known as the C. R. formula. In 1946, Rajagopalachari was appointed Minister of Industry, Supply, Education and Finance in the Interim Government of India, and then 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 as Chief Minister of Madras state from 1952 to 1954. In 1959, he resigned from the Indian National Congress and founded the Swatantra Party, which fought against the Congress in the 1962, 1967 and 1971 elections. Rajagopalachari was instrumental in setting up a united Anti-Congress front in Madras state under C. N. Annadurai, which swept the 1967 elections. He died on 25 December 1972 at age 94.
Rajagopalachari was an accomplished writer who made lasting contributions to Indian English literature and is also credited with composition of the song Kurai Onrum Illai set to Carnatic music. He pioneered temperance and temple entry movements in India and advocated Dalit upliftment. He has been criticised for introducing the compulsory study of Hindi and the controversial Madras Scheme of Elementary Education in Madras State. Critics have often attributed his pre-eminence in politics to his standing as a favourite of both Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Rajagopalachari was described by Gandhi as the "keeper of my conscience".
Rajagopalachari in 1948
|Governor-General of India|
21 June 1948 – 26 January 1950
|Prime Minister||Jawaharlal Nehru|
|Preceded by||The Earl Mountbatten of Burma|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished |
Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the President of India
|2nd Chief Minister of Madras|
10 April 1952 – 13 April 1954
|Preceded by||P. S. Kumaraswamy Raja|
|Succeeded by||K. Kamaraj|
|Minister of Home Affairs|
26 December 1950 – 25 October 1951
|Prime Minister||Jawaharlal Nehru|
|Preceded by||Vallabhbhai Patel|
|Succeeded by||Kailash Nath Katju|
|Governor of West Bengal|
15 August 1947 – 21 June 1948
|Premier||Prafulla Chandra Ghosh|
Bidhan Chandra Roy
|Preceded by||Frederick Burrows|
|Succeeded by||Kailash Nath Katju|
|11th Chief Minister of Madras Presidency|
14 July 1937 – 9 October 1939
|Governor||The Lord Erskine|
|Preceded by||Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu|
|Succeeded by||Tanguturi Prakasam|
|Minister of Education|
2 September 1946 – 14 August 1947
|Prime Minister||Jawaharlal Nehru|
|Succeeded by||Maulana Abul Kalam Azad|
|Born||10 December 1878|
Thorapalli, Madras Presidency, British India
(now in Hosur Taluk, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India)
|Died||25 December 1972 (aged 94)|
Madras, Tamil Nadu, India
|Political party||Swatantra Party (1959–1972)|
|Indian National Congress (Before 1957)|
Indian National Democratic Congress (1957–1959)
|Spouse(s)||Alamelu Mangalamma (1897–1916)|
|Children||C. R. Narasimhan|
C. R. Krishnaswamy
C. R. Ramaswami
Lakshmi Gandhi née C. R.
Namagiri Ammal C. R.
|Alma mater||Central College|
Presidency College, Madras
|Awards||Bharat Ratna (1954)|
Rajagopalachari was born to Chakravarti Venkataryan, munsiff of Thorapalli Village and Chakravarti Singaramma on 10 December 1878 in Thorapalli, Madras Presidency. The couple already had two sons, Chakravarti Narasimhachari and Chakravarti Srinivasa.
A weak and sickly child, Rajagopalachari was a constant worry to his parents who feared that he might not live long. As a young child, he was admitted to a village school in Thorapalli then at the age of five moved with his family to Hosur where Rajagopalachari enrolled at Hosur R.V.Government Boys Hr sec School. He passed his matriculation examinations in 1891 and graduated in arts from Central College, Bangalore in 1894. Rajagopalachari also studied law at the Presidency College, Madras, from where he graduated in 1897.
Rajagopalachari married Alamelu Mangalamma in 1897 and the couple had five children; three sons—C. R. Narasimhan, C. R. Krishnaswamy, and C. R. Ramaswami—and two daughters—Lakshmi Gandhi née C. R. and Namagiri Ammal C. R. . Mangamma died in 1916 whereupon Rajagopalachari took sole responsibility for the care of his children. His son Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari 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 his father. Rajagopalachari's daughter Lakshmi married Devdas Gandhi, son of Mahatma Gandhi while his grandsons include biographer Rajmohan Gandhi, philosopher Ramchandra Gandhi and former governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi. His great grandson, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari Kesavan, is a spokesperson of the Congress Party and Trustee of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee.
Rajagopalachari's interest in public affairs and politics began when he commenced his legal practice in Salem in 1900. At the age of 28, he joined the Indian National Congress and participated as a delegate in the 1906 Calcutta session. Inspired by Indian independence activist Bal Gangadhar Tilak, he later became a member of the Salem municipality in 1911. In 1917, he was elected Chairman of the municipality and served from 1917 to 1919 during which time he was responsible for the election of the first Dalit member of the Salem municipality. In 1917, he defended Indian independence activist P. Varadarajulu Naidu against charges of sedition and two years later participated in the agitations against the Rowlatt Act. Rajagopalachari was a close friend of the founder of Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company V. O. Chidambaram Pillai as well as greatly admired by Indian independence activists Annie Besant and C. Vijayaraghavachariar.
After Mahatma Gandhi joined the Indian independence movement in 1919, Rajagopalachari became one of his followers. He participated in the Non-Cooperation movement and gave up his law practice. In 1921, he was elected to the Congress Working Committee and served as the General Secretary of the party before making his first major breakthrough as a leader during the 1922 Indian National Congress session at Gaya when he strongly opposed collaboration with colonial administration and participation in the diarchial legislatures established by the Government of India Act 1919. While Gandhi was in prison, Rajagopalachari led the group of "No-Changers", individuals against contesting elections for the Imperial Legislative Council and other provincial legislative councils, in opposition to the "Pro-changers" who advocated council entry. When the motion was put to the vote, the "No-changers" won by 1,748 to 890 votes resulting in the resignation of important Congress leaders including Pandit Motilal Nehru and C. R. Das, the President of the Indian National Congress. When the Indian National Congress split in 1923, Rajagopalachari was a member of the Civil Disobedience Enquiry Committee. He was also involved in the Vaikom Satyagraha movement against untouchability during 1924–25.
In the early 1930s, Rajagopalachari emerged as one of the major leaders of the Tamil Nadu Congress. When Gandhi organised the Dandi march in 1930, Rajagopalachari broke the salt laws at Vedaranyam, near Nagapattinam, along with Indian independence activist Sardar Vedaratnam and was afterwards imprisoned by the British. He was subsequently elected President of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee. Following enactment of the Government of India Act in 1935, Rajagopalachari was instrumental in getting the Indian National Congress to participate in the 1937 general elections.
The Indian National Congress first came to power in the Madras Presidency (also called Madras Province by the British), following the Madras elections of 1937. Except for a six-year period when Madras was under the governor's direct rule, the Congress administered the presidency until India became independent on 15 August 1947. At the age of 59, Rajagopalachari won the Madras University seat and entered the Assembly as the first Premier of the Madras Presidency from the Congress party.
Rajagopalachari issued the Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act 1939, under which restrictions were removed on Dalits and Shanars entering Hindu temples. In the same year, the Meenakshi temple at Madurai was also opened to the Dalits and Shanars. In March 1938 Rajagopalachari introduced the Agricultural Debt Relief Act, to ease the burden of debt on the province's peasant population.
He also introduced prohibition, along with a sales tax to compensate for the loss of government revenue that resulted from the ban on alcohol. As a result of the revenue decline resulting from prohibition, the Provincial Government shut down hundreds of government-run primary schools, a decision that Rajagopalachari's political opponents alleged deprived many low-caste and Dalit students of their education. His opponents also attributed casteist motives to his government's implementation of Gandhi's Nai Talim scheme into the education system.
Rajagopalachari's tenure as Chief Minister of Madras is largely remembered for the 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 and the jailing of over 1,200 men, women and children who took part in the unrest. Two protesters, Thalamuthu Nadar and Natarasan, were killed during the protests. In 1940, Congress ministers resigned in protest over the declaration of war on Germany without their consent, leaving the governor to take over the reins of the administration. On 21 February 1940 the unpopular new law on the use of Hindi was quickly repealed by the Governor of Madras. Despite its numerous shortcomings, Madras under Rajagopalachari was still considered by political historians as the best administered province in British India.
Some months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Rajagopalachari resigned as premier along with other members of his cabinet in protest at the declaration of war by the Viceroy of India. Rajagopalachari was arrested in December 1940, in accordance with the Defence of India rules, and sentenced to one-year in prison. However, subsequently, Rajagopalachari differed in opposition to the British war effort. He also opposed the Quit India Movement and instead advocated dialogue with the British. He reasoned that passivity and neutrality would be harmful to India's interests at a time when the country was threatened with invasion. He also advocated dialogue with the Muslim League, which was demanding the partition of India. He subsequently resigned from the party and the assembly following differences over resolutions passed by the Madras Congress legislative party and disagreements with the leader of the Madras provincial Congress K. Kamaraj.
Following the end of the war in 1945, elections followed in the Madras Presidency in 1946. During the last years of the war, Kamaraj was requested by Nehru, PM; Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, Home Minister; and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to make Rajaji the Premier of Madras Presidency. Kamaraj, President of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, was forced to make [Tanguturi Prakasam] as Chief Ministerial candidate, by the elected members, to prevent Rajagopalachari from winning. However, Rajagopalachari did not contest the elections, and Prakasam was elected.
Rajaji was instrumental in initiating negotiations between Gandhi and Jinnah. In 1944, he proposed a solution to the Indian Constitutional tangle. In the same year, he proposed an "absolute majority" threshold of 55 per cent when deciding whether a district should become part of India or Pakistan, triggering a huge controversy among nationalists.
From 1946 to 1947, Rajagopalachari served as the Minister for Industry, Supply, Education and Finance in the Interim Government headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.
When India and Pakistan attained independence on 15 August 1947, the British province of Bengal was partitioned into two, with West Bengal becoming part of India and East Bengal part of Pakistan. Supported by Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajagopalachari was appointed first Governor of West Bengal.
Disliked by Bengalis for his criticism of the Bengali revolutionary Subhas Chandra Bose during the 1938 Tripuri Congress session, Rajagopalachari's appointment was unsuccessfully opposed by Bose's brother Sarat Chandra Bose. During his tenure as governor, Rajagopalachari's priorities were to deal with refugees and to bring 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." Rajagopalachari was also strongly opposed to proposals to include areas from Bihar and Odisha as part of the province of West Bengal. One such proposal by the editor of an important newspaper led to the reply:
"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?"
From 10 until 24 November 1947, Rajagopalachari served as Acting Governor-General of India in the absence of the Governor-General Lord Mountbatten, who was on leave in England to attend the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Mountbatten's nephew Prince Philip. Rajagopalachari led a very simple life in the viceregal palace, washing his own clothes and polishing his own shoes. Impressed with his abilities, Mountbatten made Rajagopalachari his second choice to succeed him after Vallabhbhai Patel, when he was to leave India in June 1948. Rajagopalachari was eventually chosen as the governor-general when Nehru disagreed with Mountbatten's first choice, as did Patel himself. He 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." Rajagopalachari then served as Governor-General of India from June 1948 until 26 January 1950, and was not only the last Governor-General of India, but the only Indian national ever to hold the office.
By the end of 1949, an assumption was made that Rajagopalachari, already governor-general, would continue as president. Backed by Nehru, Rajagopalachari 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 Rajagopalachari's non-participation during the Quit India Movement.
He was elected to the Constituent Assembly from Madras. He was a part of Advisory Committee and Sub-Committee on Minorities. He debated on issues relating to rights of religious denominations.
At Nehru's invitation, in 1950 Rajagopalachari joined the Union Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio where he served as a buffer between Nehru and Home Minister Sardar Patel and on occasion offered to mediate between the two. Following Patel's death on 15 December 1950, Rajagopalachari was finally made Home Affairs Minister and went on to serve for nearly 10 months. As had his predecessor, he warned Nehru about the expansionist designs of China and expressed regret over the Tibet problem. He also expressed concern over demands for new linguistically based states, arguing that they would generate differences amongst the people.
By the end of 1951, the differences between Nehru and Rajagopalachari came to the fore. While Nehru perceived the Hindu Mahasabha to be the greatest threat to the nascent republic, Rajagopalachari held the opinion that the Communists posed the greatest danger. He also adamantly opposed Nehru's decision to commute the death sentences passed on those involved in the Telangana uprising and his strong pro-Soviet leanings. Tired of being persistently over-ruled by Nehru with regard to critical decisions, Rajagopalachari submitted his resignation on the "grounds of ill-health" and returned to Madras.
In the 1952 Madras elections, the Indian National Congress was reduced to a minority in the state assembly with a coalition led by the Communist Party of India winning most of the seats. Though he did not contest the election, Madras Governor Sri Prakasa appointed Rajagopalachari as Chief Minister by nomination as MLC without consulting either the Indian Prime Minister Nehru or the ministers in the Madras state cabinet. Rajagopalachari was then able to prove that he had a majority in the assembly by luring MLAs from opposition parties to join the Indian National Congress. Nehru was furious and wrote to Rajagopalachari saying "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." Rajagopalachari, however, refused to contest a by-election and remained as an unelected member of the legislative council.
During Rajagopalachari's tenure as Chief Minister, a powerful movement for a separate Andhra State, comprising the Telugu-speaking districts of the Madras State, gained a foothold. On 19 October 1952, an Indian independence activist and social worker from Madras named Potti Sriramulu embarked on a hunger strike reiterating the demands of the separatists and calling for the inclusion of Madras city within the proposed state. Rajagopalachari remained unmoved by Sriramulu's action and refused to intervene. After fasting for days, Sriramulu eventually died on 15 December 1952, triggering riots in Madras city and the Telugu-speaking districts of the state. Initially, both Rajagopalachari and Prime Minister Nehru were against the creation of linguistically demarcated states but as the law and order situation in the state deteriorated, both were forced to accept the demands. Andhra State was thus created on 1 October 1953 from the Telugu-speaking districts of Madras, with its capital at Kurnool. However, the boundaries of the new state were determined by a commission which decided against the inclusion of Madras city. Though the commission's report suggested the option of having Madras as the temporary capital of Andhra State to allow smooth partitioning of the assets and the secretariat, Rajagopalachari refused to allow Andhra State to have Madras even for a day.
On 31 May 1952, Rajagopalachari put an end to sugar rationing and followed up by abolishing control over food supplies on 5 June 1952. He also introduced measures to regulate the running of universities in the state. In 1953, he introduced a new education scheme known as the "Modified System of Elementary Education", which reduced schooling for elementary school students to three hours per day with students expected to learn the family vocation at home during the remainder of the day. The plan came in for sharp criticism and evoked strong protests from the Dravidian parties. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam dubbed the scheme Kula Kalvi Thittam or Hereditary Education Policy and attempted to organise massive demonstrations outside Rajagopalachari's house on 13 and 14 July 1953. The rising unpopularity of his government forced K. Kamaraj to withdraw his support for Rajagopalachari and on 26 March 1954, he resigned as President of the Madras Legislature Congress Party thereby precipitating new elections. During the subsequent poll held on 31 March 1954, Rajagopalachari fielded C. Subramaniam against Kamaraj. But Subramaniam could garner only 41 votes to Kamaraj's 93 and lost the elections. Rajagopalachari eventually resigned as Chief Minister on 13 April 1954, attributing the decision to poor health.
Following his resignation as Chief Minister, Rajagopalachari took a temporary break from active politics and instead devoted his time to literary pursuits. He wrote a Tamil re-telling of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana which appeared as a serial in the Tamil magazine Kalki from 23 May 1954 to 6 November 1955. The episodes were later collected and published as Chakravarthi Thirumagan, a book which won Rajagopalachari the 1958 Sahitya Academy award in Tamil language. On Republic Day 1955, Rajagopalachari was honoured with India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.
Rajagopalachari tendered his official resignation from the Indian National Congress and along with a number of other dissidents organised the Congress Reform Committee (CRC) in January 1957. K. S. Venkatakrishna Reddiar was elected president and the party fielded candidates in 55 constituencies in the 1957 state assembly elections, to emerge as the second largest party in Madras state with 13 seats in the legislative assembly. The Congress Reform Committee also contested 12 Lok Sabha seats during the 1957 Indian elections. The committee became a fully-fledged political party and was renamed the Indian National Democratic Congress at a state conference held in Madurai on September 28–29, 1957.
On 4 June 1959, shortly after the Nagpur session of the Indian National Congress, Rajagopalachari, along with Murari Vaidya of the newly established Forum of Free Enterprise (FFE) and Minoo Masani, a classical liberal and critic of socialist Nehru, announced the formation of the new Swatantra Party at a meeting in Madras. Conceived by disgruntled heads of former princely states such as the Raja of Ramgarh, the Maharaja of Kalahandi and the Maharajadhiraja of Darbhanga, the party was conservative in character. Later, N. G. Ranga, K. M. Munshi, Field Marshal K. M. Cariappa and the Maharaja of Patiala joined the effort. Rajagopalachari, Masani and Ranga also tried but failed to involve Jayaprakash Narayan in the initiative.
In his short essay "Our Democracy", Rajagopalachari explained the necessity for a right-wing alternative to the Congress by saying:
since... the Congress Party has swung to the Left, what is wanted is not an ultra or outer-Left [viz. the CPI or the Praja Socialist Party, PSP], but a strong and articulate Right
Rajagopalachari also insisted that the opposition must:
operate not privately and behind the closed doors of the party meeting, but openly and periodically through the electorate.
He outlined the goals of the Swatantra Party through twenty one "fundamental principles" in the foundation document. The party stood for equality and opposed government control over the private sector. Rajagopalachari sharply criticised the bureaucracy and coined the term "licence-permit Raj" to describe Nehru's elaborate system of permissions and licences required for an individual to set up a private enterprise. Rajagopalachari's personality became a rallying point for the party.
Rajagopalachari's efforts to build an anti-Congress front led to a patch up with his former adversary C. N. Annadurai of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Annadurai grew close to Rajagopalachari and sought an alliance with the Swatantra Party for the 1962 Madras legislative assembly elections. Although there were occasional electoral pacts between the Swatantra Party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Rajagopalachari remained non-committal on a formal tie-up with the DMK due to its existing alliance with Communists whom he dreaded. The Swatantra Party contested 94 seats in the Madras state assembly elections and won six as well as won 18 parliamentary seats in the 1962 Lok Sabha elections.
India's use of military force against Portugal to capture the Portuguese enclave of Goa was criticised by Rajagopalachari who said of the operation and subsequent acts of international diplomacy, "India has totally lost the moral power to raise her voice against the use of military power."
On 26 January 1950, the Government of India adopted Hindi as the official language of the country, but because of objections in non-Hindi-speaking areas, it introduced a provision tentatively making English the second official language on a par with Hindi for a stipulated fifteen-year period to facilitate a switch to Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states. From 26 January 1965 onwards, Hindi was to become the sole official language of the Indian Union and people in non-Hindi speaking regions were compelled to learn Hindi. This led to vehement opposition and just before Republic Day, severe anti-Hindi protests broke out in Madras State. Rajagopalachari had earlier been sharply critical of the recommendations made by the Official Languages Commission in 1957. On 28 January 1956, Rajagopalachari signed a resolution along with Annadurai and Periyar endorsing the continuation of English as the official language. At an All-India Language Conference held on 8 March 1958, he declared: "Hindi is as much foreign to non-Hindi speaking people as English [is] to the protagonists of Hindi". When the Anti-Hindi agitations broke out in 1965, Rajagopalachari completely reversed his 1938 support for the introduction 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 Tiruchirapalli. angrily declaring that Part XVII of the Constitution of India which declared that Hindi was the official language should "be heaved and thrown into the Arabian Sea."
The fourth elections to the Madras Legislative assembly were held in February 1967. At the age of 88, Rajagopalachari worked to forge a united opposition to the Indian National Congress through a tripartite alliance between the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Swatantra Party and the Forward Bloc. The Congress party was defeated in Madras for the first time in 30 years and the coalition led by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam came to power. C. N. Annadurai served as Chief Minister from 6 March 1967 till his death on 3 February 1969. Rajagopalachari delivered a moving eulogy to Annadurai at his funeral.
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 seats in the 1967 general elections and emerged as the single largest opposition party. The principal opposition party in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, it also formed a coalition government in Odisha and had a significant presence in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar.
In 1971, Annadurai's successor M. Karunanidhi relaxed prohibition laws in Tamil Nadu due to the poor financial situation of the state. Rajagopalachari pleaded with him not to repeal prohibition but to no avail and as a result, the Swatantra Party withdrew its support for the state government and instead allied with the Congress, a breakaway faction of the Indian National Congress led by Kamaraj.
In January 1971, a three-party anti-Congress coalition was established by the Congress (O), Jan Sangh and the Samyukta Socialist Party then on 8 January, the national executive of the Swatantra Party took the unanimous decision to join the coalition. The dissident parties formed an alliance called the National Democratic Front and fought against the Indian National Congress led by Indira Gandhi in the 1971 Indian general elections. However, the alliance fared badly. The Swatantra Party's tally was reduced to 8 seats from 23 in the 1967 elections. The decline of the Swatantra Party was also visible in the 1971 Tamil Nadu Legislative assembly elections in which it won just 19 seats down from 27 in the 1967 elections.
By November 1972, Rajagopalachari's health had begun to decline and on 17 December the same year, a week after his 94th birthday, he was admitted to the Government Hospital, Madras suffering from uraemia, dehydration and a urinary infection. In the hospital, he was visited by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, V. R. Nedunchezhiyan, V. V. Giri, Periyar and other state and national leaders. Rajagopalachari's condition deteriorated in the following days as he frequently lost consciousness and he died at 5:44 pm on Christmas day, 25 December 1972 at the age of 94. His son, C. R. Narasimhan, was at his bedside at the time of his death reading him verses from a Hindu holy book. He was a widower for 56 years, and also outlived a son and both his sons-in-law.
An accomplished writer both in his mother tongue Tamil as well as English, Rajagopalachari was the founder of the Salem Literary Society and regularly participated in its meetings. In 1922, he published Siraiyil Tavam (Meditation in jail), a day-to-day account of his first imprisonment by the British from 21 December 1921 to 20 March 1922.
Rajagopalachari started the Tamil Scientific Terms Society in 1916, a group that 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, he wrote an abridged retelling of the Mahabharata in English, followed by one of the Ramayana in 1957. Earlier, in 1961, he had translated Kambar's Tamil Ramayana into English. In 1965, he translated the Thirukkural into English and also wrote books on the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads in English as well as works on Socrates, and Marcus Aurelius in Tamil. Rajagopalachari often regarded his literary works as the best service he had rendered to the people. In 1958, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for works in the Tamil language for his retelling of the Ramayana – Chakravarti Thirumagan. He was also one of the founders of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of education and Indian culture. In 1959 the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan published his book: "Hinduism: Doctrine and Way of Life".
Apart from his literary works, Rajagopalachari also composed a devotional song Kurai Onrum Illai devoted to Lord Venkateshwara, a song set to music and a regular at Carnatic concerts. Rajagopalachari composed a benediction hymn sung by M. S. Subbulakshmi at the United Nations General Assembly in 1967.
In 1954, during US Vice-President Richard Nixon's nineteen country Asian tour, he was lectured by Rajagopalachari on the consuming emotional quality of nuclear weapons. The pair discussed spiritual life, particularly reincarnation and predestination. Nixon wrote three pages of notes recording Rajagopalachari's words, 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."
While on a tour to the United States as a member of the Gandhi Peace Foundation delegation, in September 1962 Rajagopalachari visited American President John F. Kennedy at the White House. Rajagopalachari warned Kennedy of the dangers of embarking on an arms race, even one which the US could win. At the end of the meeting 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". On 1 May 1955, Rajagopalachari appealed to the Government of India to cancel receipt of aid from America if the country continued with its nuclear tests.
E. M. S. Namboodiripad, a prominent Communist Party leader, once remarked that Rajagopalachari was the Congress leader he respected the most despite the fact he was also someone with whom he had the most differences. Of Rajagopalachari, Periyar, one of his foremost political rivals remarked "he 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 commented:
Mr. Rajagopalachari was one of the makers of new India, a sincere patriot, a man whose penetrating intellect and moral sense added depth to national affairs. His analysis, his anticipation, his administrative acumen and his courage to steer an unpopular course if he felt the need, marked him as a statesman and made an impact on the national history at several crucial junctures. He had held the highest positions and lent distinction to every office.— Swarajya, 27 January 1973
Regarded as a pioneer of social reform, Rajagopalachari 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 program in 1938. He was a staunch advocate of prohibition and was elected Secretary of the Prohibition League of India in 1930. On assuming the premiership of the Madras Presidency, he introduced prohibition throughout the province. where it remained in vogue until its removal by M. Karunanidhi over thirty years later. Rajagopalachari was also an active member of the All India Spinners Association. and a strong opponent of "linguistic states", which he felt would bring anarchy to India.
He is also remembered for his literary contributions, some of which are considered modern-day classics. He frequently wrote articles for Kalki and his own journal Swarajya, of which Philip Spratt was editor.
Richard Casey, Governor of Bengal from 1944 to 1946, regarded Rajagopalachari as the wisest man in India. The best possible tribute to Rajagopalachari was from Mahatma Gandhi who referred to him as the "keeper of my conscience". Today, his private papers are part of the Archives at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, at Teen Murti House, Delhi.
Rajagopalachari was considered one of the most able statesmen in the national arena. Critics opine that he completely failed to gauge the thoughts and feelings of the masses – his introduction of Hindi and the Madras Scheme of Elementary Education have both been extensively criticised while his pacifist stance during the Quit India Movement and his "C. R. formula" angered the majority of his colleagues in the Indian National Congress. P. C. Alexander, a former governor of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, once wrote:
The most conspicuous case of constitutional impropriety by the Governor in the exercise of discretion to choose the Chief Minister, took place in 1952 when the then Governor of Madras, Sri Prakasa, invited Rajagopalachari to form the government in the composite State
Although his popularity at the regional level fluctuated greatly, it is believed that Rajagopalachari was able to exercise his stranglehold over provincial politics mainly because he was favoured by national leaders such as Gandhi, Patel and 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, Rajagopalachari clung on to a position of influence in regional politics through support from his colleagues at the centre.
Rajagopalachari was portrayed as an "archetypal" Tamil Brahmin "nemesis" of the anti-Brahmin demagogues constituting the self-proclaimed "Dravidian movement". A deeply religious, pious Hindu and follower of the Vedas and Upanishads, he was "accused" of being "pro-Sanskrit" and "pro-Hindi", positions that had in fact long been the consensus among other Dravidian-language speaking States in India who far exceeded Tamil speakers by population. Rajagopalachari found this "stigma" 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 "Sanskritise" Tamil vocabulary through the inclusion of a large number of Sanskrit-derived words in his writings.
Vasanthi Srinivasan, Gandhi's Conscience Keeper: C Rajagopalachari and Indian Politics (Permanent Black 2009)
Vasanthi Srinivasan, Gandhi's Conscience Keeper: C Rajagopalachari and Indian Politics (Permanent Black 2009)
Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu
| Premier of Madras
| Governor of West Bengal
Kailash Nath Katju
| Minister of Home Affairs|
Poosapati Sanjeevi Kumarswamy Raja
| Chief Minister of Madras
The Earl Mountbatten of Burma
| Governor General of India
as President of India
The first legislative council election for the Madras Presidency after the establishment of a bicameral legislature by the Government of India Act of 1935 was held in February 1937. The Indian National Congress obtained a majority by winning 27 out of 46 seats in the Legislative Council for which the elections were held. This was the first electoral victory for the Congress in the presidency since elections were first conducted for the Council in 1920 and C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) became the Chief Minister. The Justice Party which had ruled the presidency for most of the previous 17 years was voted out of power. Congress also won the Legislative assembly election held simultaneously.1946 Madras Presidency Legislative Assembly election
The second legislative assembly election for the Madras Presidency after the establishment of a bicameral legislature by the Government of India Act of 1935 was held in 1946. The election was held after 6 years of Governor's rule starting from 1939, when the Indian National Congress government of C. Rajagopalachari resigned protesting Indian involvement in World War II. This was the last election held in the presidency - after Indian independence in 1947, the presidency became the Madras state. The election was held simultaneously with that of the Legislative Council. The Congress swept the polls by winning 163 out of 215 seats. The years after this election saw factionalism in Madras Congress party with divisions across regional (mainly Tamil and Andhra) and communal (Brahman and non-Brahman) lines. Competition among T. Prakasam (Andhra Brahman), C. Rajagopalachari (Tamil Brahman) and K. Kamaraj (Tamil non-Brahman) resulted in the election of Prakasam as the Chief Minister initially. But he was later defeated by Omandur Ramaswamy Reddiar (Tamil non-Brahman) with Kamaraj's support. In turn, Reddiar himself was ousted to make way for P. S. Kumaraswamy Raja (Tamil non-Brahman) with the support of Kamaraj.1946 Madras Presidency Legislative Council election
The second legislative council election for the Madras Presidency after the establishment of a bicameral legislature by the Government of India Act of 1935 was held in March 1946. The election was held after 6 years of Governor's rule starting from 1939, when the Indian National Congress government of C. Rajagopalachari resigned protesting Indian involvement in World War II. This was the last direct election held for the Madras Legislative Council in the presidency - after Indian independence in 1947, the presidency became the Madras state and direct elections to the council were abolished. The election was held simultaneously with that of the Legislative Assembly. The Congress swept the polls by winning 32 out of 46 seats. The years after this election saw factionalism in Madras Congress party with divisions across regional (mainly Tamil and Andhra) and communal (Brahman and non-Brahman) lines. Competition among T. Prakasam (Andhra Brahman), C. Rajagopalachari (Tamil Brahman) and K. Kamaraj (Tamil non-Brahman) resulted in the election of Prakasam as the Chief Minister initially. But he was later defeated by Omandur Ramaswamy Reddiar (Tamil non-Brahman) with Kamaraj's support. In turn, Reddiar himself was ousted to make way for P. S. Kumaraswamy Raja (Tamil non-Brahman) with the support of Kamaraj.1967 Indian general election in Madras
The Indian general election, 1967 polls in Tamil Nadu were held for 39 seats in the state. The result was a huge victory for Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, led by C.N. Annadurai and its ally Swatantra Party, led by C. Rajagopalachari. Madras was the first and one of few states, where a non-Congress Party won more seats than Congress in a state. A huge wave of anti-incumbency factor was present in Madras, 1967, which led to the defeat of the popular leader K. Kamaraj and his party in both the state and national elections, won by DMK and its allies. After this election, the DMK supported the Congress party under Indira Gandhi.Adi M. Sethna
Lieutenant General Adi Meherji Sethna, PVSM, AVSM was an Indian Army General who served as the Vice Chief of Army Staff.After graduating from The Doon School and Allahabad University he was commissioned into the Indian Army and posted to the 6th Rajputana Rifles on 21 May 1944. He began his military career fighting in Malaya during the Second World War.
He was one of the few Indians to attend both the Royal College of Defence Studies and the Camberly Staff College in England. He was ADC to the second Governor-General of India C. Rajagopalachari as well as Dr. Rajendra PrasadHe also played an active role in the strategy for the Bangladesh campaign and was awarded India’s third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan. He
guided the Delhi Parsi Anjuman and the Federation of Zoroastrian Anjumans for 20 years. Adi Sethna was also the Founder President of the UNESCO Parsi-Zoroastrian Project. He died of Cancer in 2006.Chief Ministership of Rajagopalachari
C. Rajagopalachari (aka Rajaji) was a Chief Minister of erstwhile Madras Presidency of British India and Tamil Nadu of Independent India. He was the first Indian National Congress member to assume office in Madras Presidency. He served as a Chief Minister for two terms spanning about five years. He was elected as a Chief Minister after 1937 elections in Madras Presidency and served till 1939. He was also the first Chief Minister to serve the Madras State after first elections held after Indian independence. His second term lasted from 1952 till 1954.Devdas Gandhi
Devdas Mohandas Gandhi (22 May 1900 – 3 August 1957) was the fourth and youngest son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was born in South Africa and returned to India with his parents as a young man. He became active in his father's movement, spending many terms in jail. He also became a prominent journalist, serving as editor of Hindustan Times.
Devdas fell in love with Lakshmi, the daughter of C. Rajagopalachari, Devdas's father's associate in the Indian independence struggle. Due to Lakshmi's age at that time, she was only 15 and Devdas was 28 years, both Devdas's father and Rajaji asked the couple to wait for five years without seeing each other. After five years had passed, they were married with their fathers' permissions in 1933. Devdas and Lakshmi had four children, Rajmohan Gandhi, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Ramchandra Gandhi and Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee (born 24 April 1934, New Delhi).Dikkatra Parvathi
Dikkatra Parvathi is a 1974 Tamil language film starring Sreekanth and Lakshmi in the lead roles. Based on a novel by the same name written by C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), the film was directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao. The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil, while Lakshmi won a lot of accolades for her performance and was reported to have narrowly missed the National Film Award for Best Actress.List of places named after C. Rajagopalachari
Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari (10 December 1878 – 25 December 1972), informally called Rajaji or C.R., was an Indian lawyer, Indian independence activist, 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.List of works by C. Rajagopalachari
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (10 December 1878 – 25 December 1972), informally called Rajaji or C.R., was an Indian lawyer, Indian independence activist, politician, writer, politician 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.Mahabharata (Rajagopalachari book)
Mahabharata is a mythological book retold by C. Rajagopalachari. It was first published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in 1958. This book is an abridged English retelling of Vyasa's Mahabharata. Rajaji considered this book and his Ramayana to be his greatest service to his countrymen.
As of 2001, the book had sold over a million copies.Neil Statue Satyagraha
Neil statue Satyagraha was an agitation that took place in Madras Presidency, British India during the Indian Independence Movement. It took place in 1927 demanding the removal of the statue of Colonel James Neil situated at Mount Road (now Anna Salai) in Madras.
James Neil of the Madras Fusileers regiment played a major role in putting down the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He was killed during the Siege of Lucknow and was reviled as the "Butcher of Allahabad" by the Indians. A statue of him was placed at Mount Road, Madras. In 1927, it became the target of the Indian nationalists. The Madras Mahajana Sabha and the Madras provincial committee of the Indian National Congress passed a resolution demanding its removal. They started a series of demonstrations in Madras. The agitators came from all over the Madras Presidency and were led by S. N. Somayajulu of Tirunelveli. Several agitators were arrested and sentenced to prison terms ranging from a few weeks to a year of rigorous imprisonment. After the major leaders - Somayajulu and Swaminatha Mudaliar were arrested, K. Kamaraj became the leader of the agitation (September 1927). Mahatma Gandhi who visited Madras during the same time, gave his support to the agitation. The Madras legislature also passed resolutions demanding the removal of the statue. The agitation lost steam after a few months and was dropped to make way for the Simon Commission boycott.Neil's statue remained in the same place and was moved to the Ripon Building campus for a few years. In 1937, when the newly elected Congress government (under the 1935 act) of C. Rajagopalachari moved it to the Madras museum after a resolution demanding its removal was passed in the Madras Corporation. As of 2011, it still remains in the Anthropology section of the museum.Rajaji Hall
Rajaji Hall, previously known as the Banqueting Hall, Madras, is a public hall in the city of Chennai, India used for social functions. The hall was built by John Goldingham to commemorate the British victory over Tipu Sultan in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War.Rajaji National Park
Rajaji National Park is an Indian national park and tiger reserve that encompasses the Shivaliks, near the foothills of the Himalayas. The park is spread over 820 km2., and three districts of Uttarakhand: Saharanpur, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal. In 1983, three wildlife sanctuaries in the area namely, Chilla, Motichur and Rajaji sanctuaries were merged into one.Rajaji National Park has been named after C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), a prominent leader of the Freedom Struggle, the second and last Governor-General of independent India and one of the first recipients of India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (in 1954).Rajajinagar
Rajajinagar is a residential locality in the west of Bangalore. It's one of the zones of BBMP. It is bordered by Basaveshwaranagar, Malleshwaram, Mahalakshmipuram alias West of Chord road 2nd stage, Mahalakshmi Layout, Vijayanagar and Rajajinagar Industrial Suburb.Ramayana (Rajagopalachari book)
Ramayana is a retelling of the epic by C. Rajagopalachari. It was first published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in 1957. This book is an abridged English retelling of the Valmiki Ramayana; he had earlier published a version of Kamba Ramayanam. Rajaji considered this book and his Mahabharata to be his greatest service to his countrymen.
As of 2001, the book had sold over a million copies.Swatantra Bharat Paksh
The Swatantra Bharat Paksh (translation: Independent India Party; abbr. SBP) is a liberal political party in Maharashtra, India, established in 1994 by Sharad Anantrao Joshi (former Shetkari Sanghatana leader). It claims its roots in the Swatantra Party of C. Rajagopalachari. It won one seat in the 2004 Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha election, successfully contested by Wamanrao Chatap from the Rajura constituency. In total, the party had launched 7 candidates. It also holds one Rajya Sabha seat, represented by Sharad Anantrao Joshi.The party is allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party as well as the Shiv Sena. The party supports the demand for a separate Vidarbha state.Swatantra Party
The Swatantra Party was an Indian liberal conservative political party that existed from 1959 to 1974. It was founded by C. Rajagopalachari in reaction to what he felt was the Jawaharlal Nehru-dominated Indian National Congress's increasingly socialist and statist outlook.It had a number of distinguished leaders, most of them old Congressmen, for example, C. Rajagopalachari, Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, Minoo Masani, N.G. Ranga and K.M. Munshi. Right-wing groups and parties had, of course, earlier existed at the local and regional levels, but Swatantra’s formation was the first attempt to bring these highly fragmented right-wing forces
together under the umbrella of a single party. The provocation was the left turn which the Congress took at Avadi and the
Nagpur Resolutions. Swatantra (Freedom) stood for a market-based economy with the "Licence Raj" dismantled, although it opposed laissez faire policies. The party was thus favoured by some traders and industrialists, but at the state-level its leadership was dominated by the traditional privileged classes such as zamindars (feudal landlords) and erstwhile princes. Located on the Right of the Indian political spectrum Swatantra was not a communal party; its membership was not restricted on the basis of religion, unlike the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Jana Sangh. In 1960, Rajagopalachari and his colleagues drafted a 21-point manifesto detailing why Swatantra had to be formed, even though they were hitherto Congressmen and associates of Nehru during the struggle for independence. The Prime Minister was highly critical of Swatantra, dubbing the party as belonging to "the middle ages of lords, castles and zamindars".In the 1962 general election, the first after its formation, Swatantra received 6.8 percent of the total votes and won 18 seats in the third Lok Sabha (1962–67). It emerged as the main opposition to the dominant Congress in four states—Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Orissa. By the next general election in 1967, Swatantra had become a significant force in some parts of India; it won 8.7 percent of the votes and became the single-largest opposition party in the fourth Lok Sabha (1967–71) with 44 seats. In 1971, Swatantra joined a "Grand Alliance" of parties from across the political spectrum who aimed to defeat Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The party secured eight seats, winning only 3% of the votes. The next year, in 1972, its founder Rajagopalachari died, and Swatantra declined rapidly. By 1974, it merged into the Charan Singh-led Bharatiya Lok Dal, another coalition committed to anti-Congressism.When Jayaprakash Narayan was asked in 2014 whether he saw his Loksatta Party "as a modern-day re-embodiment of the Swatantra Party", he replied "in a large measure, yes. ... The founders of Swatantra Party were visionaries and had India followed their leadership, we could have been where China is today, economically."Vedaranyam March
The Vedaranyam March (also called the Vedaranyam Satyagraha) was a framework of the nonviolent civil disobedience movement in British India. Modeled on the lines of Dandi March, which was led by Mahatma Gandhi on the western coast of India the month before, it was organised to protest the salt tax imposed by the British Raj in the colonial India.
C. Rajagopalachari, a close associate of Gandhi, led the march which had close to 150 volunteers, most of whom belonged to the Indian National Congress. It began at Trichinopoly (now Tiruchirappalli) on 13 April 1930 and proceeded for about 150 miles towards the east before culminating at Vedaranyam, a small coastal town in the then Tanjore District. By collecting salt directly from the sea the marchers broke the salt law. As a part of the march, Rajagopalachari created awareness among the people by highlighting the importance of khādī as well as social issues like caste discrimination. The campaign came to an end on 28 April 1930 when the participants were arrested by the police. Its leader Rajagopalachari was imprisoned for six months. The march along with the ones at Dandi and Dharasana drew worldwide attention to the Indian independence movement.