Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A man, a plan

He seems a mythical figure, almost. The fresh garland on the statute in front of the"Kamaraj Memorial House" indicates that he's still revered by some folks, somewhere. Leaders of the Congress Party in Tamil Nadu continuously harp about bringing back the "Kamaraj age", when Tamil Nadu was one of the best administered states in the country, not to mention one of the 'cleanest', as well. That age seems far removed, much more than the 48 years since K.Kamaraj stepped down as the Chief Minister of the state.

And that was probably the last great sacrifice in Indian politics. Though Kamaraj was in his third term as Chief Minister, he still had considerable political clout in New Delhi, enough for Jawaharlal Nehru to take his advice in implementing what has come to be known as the "Kamaraj Plan". On the face of it, the plan was innocuous enough. Kamaraj proposed that senior leaders of the Congress should give up their positions in the government and move back to the party's organizational framework to revitalize the party. Kamaraj himself gave up his Chief Ministership under the plan, as did five other Chief Ministers and six members of the Union Cabinet. Kamaraj himself was almost immediately elected as President of the Congress Party. It was during his tenure that he orchestrated the transition through two Prime Ministers - Lal Bahadur Shastri after Nehru and then, Indira Gandhi after Shastri's untimely demise.

There are differing views on why the "Kamaraj Plan" was developed; some think it was to strengthen Indira Gandhi's position in the Congress Party. Others belive it was to push out Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, the 'Prime Minister' of Jammu & Kashmir, who even though he was not a member of the Congress Party, offered his resignation - which was promptly accepted. Whatever be the compulsions for the Kamaraj Plan of 1963, the state unit of the Congress Party could do with some of Kamaraj's magic!

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