Kingmaker Kamaraj

History, Politics

The Hindu sunday magazine has an article by Ramachandra Guha on K. Kamaraj (1903-1975), the politician from Tamil Nadu. Kamaraj was instrumental in overseeing the prime ministership pass from Nehru to Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964) and Indira Gandhi (1966). He was a member of the syndicate,’ a group of powerful regional Congress party leaders who had ambitions of being power brokers at the national level. Even though most history books remember him in the role of kingmaker, Kamaraj was much more than that, he seems to have been an able organizer and administrator and was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for thirteen years. He had a reputation for honesty (a rarity among politicians). One of the signs of his incorruptibility was the fact that he had never married, something that was often cited in the case of Vajpayee as well. I suppose the logic is that if you don’t have a family, why would you need to be corrupt? And being single is a sign of celibacy, which is saintly and good. Quite the opposite in the US, where if you are not married, it means you are gay which seems to be an anathema for most politicians, gay-friendly or otherwise, exceptions for folks like Barney Frank.

There is a very hagiographic website devoted to Kamaraj, which has some great photographs from his early life.