K. Kamaraj: Wikis


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In this Indian name, the name "Kumarasami" is a patronymic, not a family name, and the person should be referred to by the given name, "Kamaraj".
K. Kamaraj

Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) for Nagercoil
In office
1967 – 1975
Preceded by A. Nesamony
Succeeded by Kumari Ananthan
Constituency Nagercoil

Member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly for Sattur
In office
1957 – 1967
Preceded by S. Ramaswamy Naidu
Succeeded by S. Ramaswamy Naidu
Constituency Sattur

Member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly for Gudiyatham
In office
1954 – 1957
Preceded by Rathnaswamy and A. J. Arunachala Mudaliar
Succeeded by V. K. Kothandaraman and T. Manavalan
Constituency Gudiyatham

Chief Minister of the Madras State (Tamil Nadu)
In office
1954 – 1963
Preceded by C. Rajagopalachari
Succeeded by M. Bhakthavatsalam

Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) for Srivilliputhur
In office
1952 – 1954
Preceded by None
Succeeded by S. S. Natarajan
Constituency Srivilliputhur

In office
1967 – 1971
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Morarji Desai

President of the Indian National Congress
In office
1963 – 1967
Preceded by Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
Succeeded by S. Nijalingappa

President of the Madras Provincial Congress Committee
In office
1946 – 1952
Succeeded by P. Subbarayan

Born 15 July 1903(1903-07-15)
Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu, India
Died 2 October 1975
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Nationality Indian
Spouse(s) NIL
Children NIL
Religion Hindu

Kumarasami Kamaraj (Tamil: காமராஜ்) better known as K. Kamaraj (15 July 1903[1] – 2 October 1975[2]) was an Indian politician from Tamil Nadu widely acknowledged as the "Kingmaker" in Indian politics during the 1960s. He was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu during 1954-1963 and a Member of Parliament during 1952-1954 and 1967-1975. He was known for his simplicity and integrity.[1][3]

He was involved in the Indian independence movement.[4] As a high ranking office bearer of the Indian National Congress, he was instrumental in bringing to power two Prime Ministers, Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1964 and Indira Gandhi in 1966. In Tamil Nadu, his home state, he is still remembered for bringing school education to millions of the rural poor by introducing free education and the free Mid-day Meal Scheme during his tenure as chief minister. He was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1976. The domestic terminal of the Chennai airport is named "Kamaraj Terminal" in his honour and the Madurai Kamaraj University has been renamed after him.[3][5]


Early life

Kamaraj was born on 15 July 1903 to Kumarasamy Nadar and Sivakami Ammal at Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu. His parents were from a trading family. His father Kumarasamy Nadar, was a coconut merchant. Kamaraj was initially enrolled in the Enadhy Nayanar Vidyalaya elementary school, and later in high school Kshatriya Vidyalaya. Kamaraj's father died when he was six years old and his mother was forced to support her family by selling her jewellery. In 1914, Kamaraj dropped out of school to support his family.[6][7]

Start in politics and freedom struggle

Kamaraj joined as an apprentice in his maternal uncle Karuppiah's cloth shop after dropping out of school. He would slip out from the shop to join processions and attend public meetings addressed by orators like Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu. His relatives frowned upon Kamaraj 's budding interest in politics. They sent him to Thiruvananthapuram to work at another uncle's timer shop.

At the age of 16, Kamaraj enrolled himself as full-time worker of the Congress Party. He invited speakers, organized meetings and collected funds for the party. He also participated in the march to Vedaranyam led by C. Rajagopalachari as part of the Salt Satyagraha of March 1930.

Kamaraj was arrested and sent to Alipore Jail in Calcutta for two years. He was 27 at the time of his arrest and was released in 1931 following the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. Kamaraj was implicated in the Virudhunagar bomb case two years later. Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu and George Joseph argued on Kamaraj's behalf and proved the charges to be baseless. Kamaraj was arrested again in 1940 and sent to Vellore Central Prison while he was on his way to Wardha to get Gandhiji's approval for a list of satyagrahis.

While still in jail, Kamaraj was elected Chairman of the Municipal Council of Viruthunagar. 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."

Kamaraj was arrested once more in 1942 and sentenced to three years in the Amaravathi prison for spreading propaganda material for the Quit India movement initiated by Gandhiji. While in prison, Kamaraj read books and continued his self-education.

With Satyamurti

Kamaraj's political guru and inspiration was S. Satyamurti, orator and parliamentarian. Satyamurti found in Kamaraj "an efficient, loyal, indefatigable worker and skillful organizer (p. 147, Pakshirajan)." Both developed a deep friendship and complemented each others' skills. In 1936, Satyamurti was elected President of the Provincial Congress Committee and he appointed Kamaraj the General Secretary. Four years later they swapped positions. The party base was strengthened under their leadership. So deep was Kamaraj's devotion to Satyamurti that when India gained independence, he first went to Satyamurti's house and hoisted the Indian flag there. On his election as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Kamaraj went to Satyamurti's house and garlanded his photo and paid his respects to the leader's widow.

Chief Ministership

Kamaraj Statue in Marina Beach,Chennai depicting his contribution to education in the state.

On April 13, 1954, K. Kamaraj became the Chief Minister of Madras Province. To everyone's surprise, Kamaraj nominated C. Subramaniam and M. Bhakthavatsalam, who had contested his leadership, to the newly formed cabinet.


Kamaraj removed the family vocation based Hereditary Education Policy introduced by Rajaji. He reopened the 6000 schools closed by previous government for financial reasons and also added 12000 more schools. The State made immense strides in education and trade. New schools were opened, so that poor rural students were to walk no more than 3 miles to their nearest school. Better facilities were added to existing ones. 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 up to the eleventh standard. He introduced the Mid-day Meal Scheme to provide at least one meal per day to the lakhs of poor school children (first time in the whole world). He introduced free school uniforms to weed out caste, creed and class distinctions among young minds.

During British regime the education was only 7 percent. But in Kamaraj's period it was 37% . During Rajaji's period there were 12000 schools in the state. Whereas it was 27000 in the period of Kamaraj. Apart from increasing number of schools, steps were taken to improve standard of education. To improve the standards number of working day were increased from 180 to 200. Unnecessary holidays were reduced. Syllabus were prepared to give opportunity to various abilities.

During his period IIT Madras was started.


Major irrigation schemes were planned in Kamaraj's period . Lower Bhavani, Mani Muthuar , Cauvery Delta , Aarani River , Vaigai Dam , Amravathi , Sathanur , Krishnagiri , Pullambadi , Parambikulam and Neyyaru Dams were among them . The Lower Bhavani Dam in Coimbatore district was constructed with an expenditure of Rs 10/- Crores. 2,07,000 acres of land are under cultivation.

45,000 acres of land are benefited through Mettur canal of Salem. Another scheme was Krishnagiri in the same district. Vaigai , [[Sathanur ]] facilitate to cultivate thousands of acres of lands in Madurai and North Arcot districts respectively. Rs 30 crores were planned to spend for Parambikulam River scheme in Kamaraj's period. This has helped for the development of Coimbatore district in agriculture field.

Number of dams were constructed under his rule are

    • Manimuthar Dam,
    • Vaikai Dam.
    • Aliyar Dam.
    • Sathanur Dam.
    • Krishnagiri Dam.

In 1957-61 1,628 Tanks were de-silted under Small Irrigation Scheme 2000 wells were digged with outlets. Long term loans with 25% subsidy were given to farmers. Apart from formers who are having dry lands were given oil engines , electric pump sets on installment basis.

150 lakhs of acres of lands were cultivated during Kamaraj's period. One third of this i.e. 56 lakhs of acres of land got permanent watering facility.

Industrial Development

Industries with huge investments in crores of Rupees were started in his period. Neyveli Lignite Scheme, Raw photo film industry at Nilgri, Surgical instruments factory at Guindy, Sugar factories , Bi-Carbonates factories, Cement factories, Railway Coach factory at Perambur, Mettur paper industry were started in the period of Kamaraj. These are the back-bone for the development of the nation.

Other industries which were started his period are


Many schemes were started to generate electicity like Guntha hydro power station, Ooty and Neyveli thermal power station. During his period, Tamil Nadu was developing in all fronts.

Kamaraj remained Chief Minister for three consecutive terms, winning elections in 1957 and 1962. Kamaraj noticed that the Congress party was slowly losing its vigor. He came up with a plan which was called the "Kamaraj Plan".

On October 2, 1963, he resigned from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Post. He proposed that all senior Congress leaders should resign from their posts and devote all their energy to the re-vitalization of the Congress.

In 1963 he suggested to Nehru that senior Congress leaders should leave ministerial posts to take up organisational work. This suggestion came to be known as the Kamaraj Plan, which was designed primarily to dispel from the minds of Congressmen the lure for power, creating in its place a dedicated attachment to the objectives and policies of the organisation. Kamaraj was elected President, Indian National Congress, on October 9, 1963.

Well impressed by the achievements and acumen of Kamraj, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru felt that his services were needed more at the national level. In a swift move he brought Kamaraj to Delhi as the President of the Indian National Congress. Nehru realised that if he had wide learning and vision, Kamaraj possessed enormous common sense and pragmatism.


Kamaraj's First Cabinet

Kamaraj's council of ministers during his first tenure as Chief Minister(13 April 1954 - 31 March 1957)[8]:

Minister Portfolios
K. Kamaraj Chief Minister, Public and Police in the Home Department
M. Bhaktavatsalam Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries, Cinchona, Rural Welfare, Community Projects, National Extension Scheme, Women’s Welfare, Industries and Labour and Animal Husbandry and Veterinary
C. Subramaniam Finance, Food, Education, Elections and Information and Publicity and Law (Courts and Prisons)
A. B. Shetty Medical and Public Health, Co-operation, Housing and Ex-servicemen.
M. A. Manickavelu Naicker Land Revenue, Commercial Taxes and Rural Development
Raja Sri Shanmuga Rajeswara Sethupathi Public Works, Accommodation Control, Engineering Colleges, Stationery and Printing including Establishment questions of the Stationery Department and the Government Press
B. Parameswaran Transport, Harijan Uplift, Hindu Religious Endowments, Registration and Prohibition
S. S. Ramasami Padayachi Local Administration
  • Following the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, A. B. Shetty quit the Ministry on 1 March 1956 and his portfolio was shared between the other ministers.

Kamaraj's Second Cabinet

Kamaraj's council of ministers during his second tenure as Chief Minister(1 April 1957 - 1 March 1962)[9]

Minister Portfolios
K. Kamaraj Chief Minister, Public, Planning and Development (including Local development Works, Women's Welfare, Community Projects and Rural Welfare), National Extension Scheme
M. Bhaktavatsalam Home
C. Subramaniam Finance
R. Venkataraman Industries
M. A. Manickavelu Naicker Revenue
P. Kakkan Works
V. Ramaiah Electricity
Lourdhammal Simon Local Administration

Kamaraj's Third Cabinet

Kamaraj's council of ministers during his third tenure as Chief Minister(3 March 1962 - 2 October 1963)[9][10][11]

Minister Portfolios
K. Kamaraj Chief Minister, Public, Planning and Development (including Local development Works, Women's Welfare, Community Projects and Rural Welfare), National Extension Scheme
M. Bhaktavatsalam Finance and Education
Jothi Venkatachalam Public Health
R. Venkataraman Revenue
S. M. Abdul Majeed Local Administration
P. Kakkan Agriculture
V. Ramaiah Public Works and Revenue
N. Nallasenapathi Sarkarai Mandradiar Cooperation and Forests
G. Bhuvaraghan Publicity and Information

Electoral History

Year Post Constituency Party Opponent Election Result
1952 M.P Srivilliputtur INC G. D. Naidu Indian General Elections, 1951 Won
1954 M.L.A Gudiyatham INC V. K. Kothandaraman By Election Won
1957 M.L.A Sattur INC Jayarama Reddiar Madras legislative assembly election, 1957 Won
1962 M.L.A Sattur INC P. Ramamoorthy Madras legislative assembly election, 1962 Won
1967 M.L.A Virudhunagar INC P. Seenivasan Tamil Nadu state assembly election, 1967 Lost
1969 M.P Nagercoil INC M. Mathias By Election Won
1971 M.P Nagercoil INC (O) M. C. Balan Indian General Elections, 1971 Won

Advice to his ministers

MGR with Kamarajar.

Kamaraj gave a simple advice to his ministers, "Face the problem. Don't evade it. Find a solution, however small. People will be satisfied if you do something." Followed by him a number of Central and State ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Morarji Desai and S.K. Patil followed suit and resigned from their posts. In 1964, Kamaraj was elected 'Congress President' and he successfully navigated the party and the nation through the stormy years following Nehru's death. Kamaraj’s political maturity came in full view when Nehru died in 1964. How he settled the succession issue for the Prime Ministership was amply proved by his choice of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi in succession.


On October 2, 1975, Gandhi Jayanthi day, Kamaraj awoke from his afternoon nap feeling uneasy. His housekeeper, Vairavan, rang up to 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 in his sleep. He was honoured with the highest civilian honour, the 'Bharat Ratna' posthumously in 1975.[2]

Popular culture

In 2004 a Tamil Movie about his life was released titled "Kamaraj". The English version of the movie was released on DVD in 2007.


External links


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