There were three prominent traits in
Rajaji. The first was fearlessness. Never would he refrain from saying
or doing what he thought was correct because it might displease someone
or it might be unpopular or those in power mightbecome angry. When he was
yet very young, he was an admirer of a Swamiji by name Sahajananda, who
was a Harijan. When the Swamiji came to Salem, Rajaji and his friends arranged
a dinner for him. Some orthodox persons became wild with anger at this,
and they ex-communicated Rajaji and his friends. The priests would not
go to their Houses to officiate at religious functions. But Rajaji
remained undaunted by any of these things. When he went to Bombay in 1941,
he had to face a black- flag demonstration against him. Some threw stones
at him in the public meeting. But Rajaji did make his speech. In just a
few minutes, there was calm and the people listened to him.
Rajaji had unflinching faith in Mahatma
Gandhis philosophy and principles. He always followed them. He was also
very close to Gandhiji. When an association was started in Madras to explain
to the people, the philosophy behind Gandhis method of Satyagraha, Rajaji
was chosen president of that body. Gandhiji was very happy when he heard
of it. Of curse, Rajaji was not a man to accept the ideas and views of
others without examining them. Gandhiji so even with the ideals preached
When the question of dividing the country
arose, every Congress leader opposed it. Still Rajaji supported the demand
for Pakistan. He kept aloof from the 'Quit India' movement started in 1942
to get the country's independence from the British. He was the only leader
who did not take an active role in that movement. So he resigned from the
Congress in 1942. Some accuse him of being the cause for the rise of Pakistan.
He had to face the hostility of the people who thought that he supported
the creation of Pakistan. It became difficult for him to speak in meetings.
Quite a few leaders also criticized him harshly. But Rajaji faced not only
harsh words but also stones, and justified opinion.
At the time Rajaji started the Swatantra
Party, the Congress Party and Jawaharlal Nehru had tremendous influence
in the country. But Rajaji did build this opposition party. And till his
last day, whenever he felt that either the ruling party or very popular
leader like Nehru was making a mistake, he roundly condemned it.
During the Second World War (1939-45),
when it seemed the Japanese would bomb Madras in 1942, the Governor of
Madras fled the city. The people also started appealed to them. This is
our country, not of the British. They may run away. But in those days of
run a teashop in the Hindi Prachar Sabha Bhavan.