Simplicity and Integrity Kingmaker Kamaraj

K. Kamaraj, (15 July 1903 – 2 October 1975) widely acknowledged as the "Kingmaker" in Indian politics during the 1960s. 

A Chief Minister and a Member of Parliament was well known for his simplicity and integrity. 

A School drop out in his sixth grade, when entered into mainstream public life realized the importance of good education. He educated himself during the life of imprisonment and even learned English from his co-worker. 

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre was the decisive turning point in his life and at this point, he decided his aim was to fight for national freedom and to bring an end to foreign rule. 

At the age of 16, Kamaraj enrolled himself as full time worker of the Congress. He participated in Vedaranyam March led by Shri C Rajagopalachari as a part of Salt Satyagraha of March 1930. 

Kamaraj was arrested under baseless charges. While still in jail, Kamaraj was elected Chairman to the Municipal Council. Nine months later upon his release, Kamaraj went straight to the Municipality and tendered his resignation from his post. He felt that “one should not accept any post to which one could not do full justice.” 

“Face the problem. Don’t evade it. Find a solution, however.” – This was the advice given by him to his cabinet, when he was elected as Chief Minister in 1954. 

No village remained without a primary school and no panchayat without a high school. Kamaraj strove to eradicate illiteracy by introducing free and compulsory education upto eleventh standard. 

He introduced the Midday Meals Scheme to provide at least one meal per day to the lakhs of poor children. He introduced free school uniforms to weed out caste, creed and class distinctions among young minds. 

Under Kamaraj’s administration, a number of irrigation schemes were completed in record time. The Land Ceiling Act and the Tenancy Protection Act benefited small farmers and saved them from being exploited by landlords. Medium and small scale industries prospered in the midst of large industries making Madras one of the leaders in industrialization. Nehru complimented Kamaraj for making Madras (later renamed State of Tamil Nadu) the best administered State in India.” 

Kamaraj remained Chief Minister for three consecutive terms. On October 2, 1963, he resigned to serve a greater purpose. Kamaraj noticed that the Congress party was slowly losing its vigor. He came up with a plan which was called the “Kamaraj Plan.” He proposed that all senior Congress leaders should resign form their posts and devote all their energy to the re-vitalization of the Congress. A number of Central and State ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, Morarji Desai and S.K. Patil followed suite and resigned from their posts. In 1964, Kamaraj was elected the President of the All India Congress and he successfully navigated the nation through the stormy years following Nehru’s death. 

On October 2, 1975, Gandhi Jayanti, Kamaraj awoke from his afternoon nap feeling uneasy. His housekeeper, Vairavan, rang up his physician. While he was on his way out, Kamaraj said, “Vairavan, put out the lights when you go out.” K. Kamaraj died that day. He was honored with the highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1976. 

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