Thanks for the excellent Op-Ed article on C. Rajagopalachari by Gopalkrishna Gandhi (Dec. 24). After the passing of Gandhiji and Sardar Patel, the two great leaders who led our country were Rajaji and Nehru. They held divergent views on many political issues which led Rajaji to form the Swatantra Party. The gulf between them became so wide that Monica Felton, Rajaji's biographer, once told him: “If I were the mother of you and the Prime Minister, I would bang your heads together and tell you to stop arguing, settle down and run the country.”
In spite of their differences, the two leaders had great regard for each other. When Nehru passed away, Rajaji wrote the following obituary in Swarajya: “Eleven years younger than I, eleven times more important to the nation, eleven hundred times more beloved of the nation, Sri Nehru has suddenly departed from our midst and I remain alive to hear the sad news from Delhi and bear the shock. The old guardroom is completely empty now. I have been fighting Nehru all these ten years over what I consider faults in public policies. But I knew all along that he alone could get them corrected. No one else would dare to do it and he is gone, leaving me weaker than before in my fight. But fighting apart, a beloved friend is gone, the most civilised person among all of us.”
I thank Mr. Gandhi, grandson of the two great souls, Gandhiji and Rajaji, for his write-up on the correspondence between his grandfathers. The Hindu deserves equal praise for publishing a rare photograph of Rajaji. CR was not very happy in his last days because of the lifting of prohibition by the DMK government. However, he derived solace from the service he had rendered to the depressed classes since the 1910s.
The article took me down memory lane. As a student in the early 1950s, I used to attend all public meetings of Rajaji. His campaign against the BCG vaccine literally sent the entire medical fraternity into a tizzy. His opposition to the formation of linguistic states, which he described as a tribal idea, irked Nehru. When CR was Chief Minister of the Madras State, Nehru addressed a public meeting on the Island Grounds and confessed his hesitation in speaking to CR, who was a much wiser man and more experienced than himself! Versatile CR wrote not only the Ramayana and the Mahabharata for the layman but also an article in The Hindu, explaining the Raman Effect.
I still preserve the letters he wrote to me 60 years ago — in one letter, he cautioned me against developing a passion for politics and, in the other, he felicitated me on my marriage, with the sharp advice: “Don't try to teach her but be an example in all things. You will realise it as you go along.”
Neduntheru S. Kannan,