Chakravarti Rajagopalachari
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Rajaji: The ‘Chanakya’ of Modern India’s Politics

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, this name is such a golden page in Indian history, which gives rise to a powerful public figure, dreamer, ideal thinker, philosopher as well as giving a special colour to the era. He has so many forms of personality, so many dimensions, so many colours, so many perspectives, in which he is a man and a hero, a philosopher and a thinker, an enlightened and a leader, a speaker and a leader. Given the vastness of his achievements, the title ‘Rajaji’ given to him is appropriate. He is called the pinnacle of Indian politics. He was a famous lawyer, writer and philosopher. He was the first Indian Governor General. The great freedom fighter, social reformer, Gandhian politician Chakravarti Rajagopalachari is considered the ‘Chanakya’ of the history of modern India.
|| Lalit Garg

In the list of great personalities of twentieth century India, there are some names which can be counted on fingers, Rajaji’s name is in the first line, he became a light in politics and that light gives the message of morality, nationality on many turns. That in politics, life can be lived even without being isolated. From fearlessness, to purity, to self-respect, to free thinking. Rajagopalachari was a multi-faceted personality, due to his wisdom, tact and strong will, many high-profile Congress leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Sardar Patel did not even praise him. Due to outstanding talent, political acumen, skillful leadership, reckless thinking, decision making, foresight and intelligence, all the Congress leaders continued to believe him.

Even when separated from the Congress, it was not felt that he was separate from it. He was the pinnacle of a series of individuals living on Gandhian principles. We can call him man in political life as a symbol of purity, of values, of counting the state power in front of the ideal, or of not bowing down or sticking to principles.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was born on 10 December 1878 in a village called Dhorapalli near Hosur in Salem district, Tamil Nadu. Born in a Vaishnava Brahmin family, Chakravarti’principal Nalin Chakraborty, who served as a judge in the Salem Court. Rajagopalachari did his early education in a village school. He also practiced after passing the intermediate examination in first class from Central College, Bangalore. He was counted among the leading lawyers of Salem on the strength of merit and talent.Chakravarti was not only sharp in reading and writing but also had a natural sense of patriotism and social service. In the days of advocacy, he was influenced by the views of Swami Vivekananda and with advocacy started taking an active interest in social reforms. Seeing his spirit of social service, the public selected him as the President of the Municipal Corporation of Salem. While holding this post, he has solved many civil problems, as well as fiercely opposed such social evils prevailing in the then society, which was just like a person like him. He is also credited for establishing the first cooperative bank in Salem. He was a magician of words and a repository of knowledge, and so was his witty style.

In the year 1915, Gandhiji returned from South Africa and started to give momentum to the country’s freedom struggle. In 1919 Gandhiji started the Satyagraha movement against the Rowlatt Act. At this time Rajagopalachari came in contact with Gandhiji and was greatly influenced by the ideas of his national movement. Rajagopalachari was called by Mahatma Gandhi to be his ‘conscience keeper’. Gandhi became the reason for Rajaji’s entry into politics. In the very first meeting, Gandhiji called him to lead the Satyagraha movement in Madras. During this he also went to jail. As soon as he was released from prison, he renounced his advocacy and all amenities, became completely devoted to the freedom struggle and started wearing Khadi. Chakravarty had attained such a high stature in the country’s politics and Congress that Gandhiji too started taking his opinion in every task. When Gandhiji was in jail, Chakravarty edited the letters Young India edited by him. He was also close to Gandhiji. Rajaji’s daughter Lakshmi was married to Gandhi’s youngest son Devdas Gandhi.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari with PM Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru

Rajagopalachari held many supreme positions in the pre-independence and post-independence governments. The interim government of the country was formed in 1946. He was made the Minister of Industry in the Central Government. In 1947, when the country became fully independent, he was appointed the Governor of Bengal. In 1950, he was again inducted into the Union Cabinet. After the death of Sardar Patel in the same year, he was made the Union Home Minister. After some years, he left both the Chief Minister’s post and the Congress in protest against the policies of the Congress and established his own independent party.

The Congress won the Madras province under the leadership of Chakraborty in the 1937 elections in Cancillo. He was made the Chief Minister of Madras. In 1939, all the Congress governments were dissolved due to differences between the British Government and the Congress. Chakraborty also resigned from his post. At the same time the Second World War started, there was a resurgence between the Congress and Chakravarti. This time he also stood in opposition to Gandhiji. Gandhiji thought that the British government should be given only moral support in this war, while Rajaji said that every kind of support should be given to the British government on the condition of giving complete independence to India. These differences increased so much that Rajaji resigned from the membership of the Executive of Congress. After this, the ‘Quit India’ movement started in 1942; even then he was not arrested and jailed along with other Congress leaders. This does not mean that he had turned away from the country’s freedom struggle or the Congress.

Rajaji was a strong supporter of Hindi. Rajaji’s ideas, which once advocated the status of Hindi as the national language, may have changed in the 60s. Nevertheless, Tamil-speaking Rajagopalachari struggled for a lifetime to earn Hindi a reputation. He is first credited for making Hindi education compulsory in the then Madras province, one of the non-Hindi speaking states. He believed that Hindi was the only language that could bind the country in one thread. He was very concerned about the nuclear weapons race in the world and the biggest thing that bothered him was the absence of the Congress Party in the country.

Rajagopalachari also inflicted deep blows on the kingship of the Indian caste. In many temples where the Dalit community was forbidden to visit the temple, they strongly opposed this rule. Due to this, the entry of Dalits into the temples was possible. In 1938, he enacted the Agricultural Debt Relief Act Act to provide relief to farmers from debt. The second general elections were held in 1957. In this too, Congress got tremendous success. Rajaji expressed his concern over this. He emphasized on bipartisan theory. He said that strong opposition is absolutely necessary for the success of democracy. He said that without opposition, the government is as if the donkey has laid the burden on one side only. Strong opposition keeps the weight of democracy equal. Rajaji believed that a party should also have two ideologies and in the absence of this, the head of the party behaves like a dictator. He also said that the existence of regional parties should be accepted.

In 1954, Rajaji, known as Chanakya of Indian politics, was honored with Bharat Ratna. The depth and sharpness in his wisdom tact was the same in his writing. He was a very good writer of Tamil and English. His commentaries on the Gita and Upanishads are famous. His contribution in the promotion of prohibition and indigenous goods especially Khadi is considered important. The great man, who showed Indianness with his costume, died on 28 December 1972.

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