To unveil K. Kamaraj's statue in October 1961, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made an exception to his policy of not unveiling statues of living persons

The statue of former Chief Minister K. Kamaraj near Gymkhana Club on Anna Salai was in focus on Sunday, the 109 birth anniversary of the leader.

Various leaders and members of the public alike chose to pay homage by garlanding the statue. But, what is less known is that the statue has a special history.

To unveil the statue in October 1961, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made an exception to his policy of not unveiling statues of living persons. Kamaraj, was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu then.

Addressing a function organised by the Chennai Corporation to unveil the statue, Prime Minister Nehru had explained why he had departed from his general policy. Praising Kamaraj’s leadership qualities, he had said: “Mr Kamaraj is a notable example of a real representative of the people, grown from the people, with extraordinary capacity, ability and devotion to his task,” according to a report published by The Hindu on October 11, 1961.

Describing Kamaraj as “an unusual type of leader,” Prime Minister Nehru had pointed out that leaders had generally been those who belonged to “the caste of English-knowing people.” But, Kamaraj did not belong to “this caste.” Nehru had added that Kamaraj knew English enough to understand it, but did not have any formal education in English.

Referring to his admiration for the city, Prime Minister Nehru said: “I would like the city of Madras to grow and prosper because it is a fine and beautiful city and such a city should not suffer from lack of water, of all things.”

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