Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, 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’. 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.
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.
He has been criticised for introducing the compulsory study of Hindi and the controversial Madras Scheme of Elementary Education in Madras State.
Rajagopalachari was described by Gandhi as the “keeper of my conscience”. Rajagopalachari’s daughter Lakshmi married Devdas Gandhi, son of Mahatma Gandhi.
Rajagopalachari issued the Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act 1939, under which restrictions were removed on Dalits and Shanars entering Hindu temples.