Rajaji 138


About Rajaji

Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, affectionately called Rajaji and often referred to as CR  was born to  father Chakravarthi Venkataraya Iyengar, who hailed from Salem and  mother Singaramma, who hailed from kuppam in chittor.   Rajaji was one of the eminent sons of our motherland and a multifaceted personality. An astute lawyer, who was drawn  into the freedom movement at the call of Mahatma Gandhi.  Rajaji was a great statesman and  a visionary. Rajaji symbolized truth and courage in all his actions and endeavours and led an impeccable public life.

Rajaji started his career as a criminal lawyer in the year 1900 when he was 22 years old at Salem and was successful in his professional career. He was the Chairman of Salem Municipality during the years 1917 to 1919 during which period he introduced several social reforms.
He joined the Freedom movement in the year 1919 when he was 41 years old at the call of Mahatma Gandhi and never rejoined the Bar.
Rajaji was a prolific writer and was the editor of ‘Young India’  in the year 1922. He was a regular contributor of articles to several magazines including ‘Kalki’ and ‘Swarajya’from the year 1960 on a variety of subjects, till almost his death. Rajaji authored among others commentaries on valuable books like  ‘Ramayana’ , Mahabharatha , Thirukurral, Bhajagovindam etc which have since been translated into several languages.
Rajaji confined himself from public glare during 1925-30 to enable the constructive programmes of Gandhiji. According to Gandhiji’s wish, he established an ashram in the famine stricken village of Pudupalayam in Salem district. He also started production of khadi cloth, and campaigned for the eradication of untouchability and drinking.  Rajaji  was back to the main stream of Public life to lead the Salt Sathyagraha in 1930.
Rajaji was the Premier of Madras Presidency ( as it was then called)- composite state consisting of present Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala( except princely states) .He resigned the Chief Ministership in the year 1939 on a call from the Congress.
Rajaji resigned from the Congress in the year 1942 – on the ‘Quit India’ issue and started advocating the  cause of “Pakistan” after violently differing from Congress policy. He was later invited to rejoin congress in 1946 and was member of the Congress working Commitee and also in Pandit Nehru’s interim Government from 2-9-46 to 1947
Rajaji was made the Governor of West Bengal on 14/15 of August 1947
He became the First Free India’s Indian Governor General on 21-6-1948
Rajaji became a member of Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet, as a Minister for Home Affairs.
Rajaji served as Chief Minister of Madras State for two years (1952 – 54). He resigned the Chief Ministership in 1954.On leaving Government, he was first among the recipients of Bharat Ratna, the Indian Government’s highest civilian award.
In 1954 while Richard Nixon, then Vice President of the United States, was undertaking a nineteen-country Asian trip he was lectured by Rajaji on the consuming emotional quality of nuclear weapons. They discussed spiritual life, particularly reincarnation and predestination. Nixon filled three pages of notes recording what Rajaji 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.”
Rajaji, Nehru and Patel were called the “head, heart and hands” of Gandhiji, in whose shadows they remained till his death. Later he differed with Nehru on National policies and started a new party called “Swatantra Party” in 1957  at the age of 81 which advocated economic liberalization as against State-Controlled, favoured by Nehru.
While on a tour to the United States of America( Rajaji’s first foreign trip) as a member of the Gandhi Peace Foundation delegation, Rajaji called upon American President John F. Kennedy in the White House in September 1962. Rajaji explained to Kennedy the dangers of embarking on 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”.On May 1, 1955, Rajaji appealed to the Government of India to stop receiving American aid if the country continued with its nuclear tests. Rajaji as a  great humanist wrote a book called “Mankind Protests” opposing the nuclear weapons. Mr.Knikita Gurushev, General Secretary, USSR, got it translated into Russian for wide circulation in his country.
Rajaji died  on 25th  December 1972, after a short illness. His public life, spanning nearly eight years, earned high esteem from Mahatma Gandhi who regarded him as the “keeper of my conscience”.








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