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A Many Splendoured Personality


C.N. Chitta Ranjan

S. SATYAMURTI (BUILDERS OF MODERN INDIA SERIES)
By R. Parthasarathi
Publication Division, 1979, pp. 232, Rs. 10.50

VOLUME IV NUMBER 3 November/December 1979

In the twenties and thirties, and up to 1942, the South, and for a time the Cent­ral Assembly under British rule, rever­berated with the voice of Satyamurti, patriot, orator, parliamentarian par ex­cellence. He must be counted among the most important of those who carried the message of the national movement to the farthest corners of the country. One of the most loyal of Gandhiji's followers, Satyamurti never hesitated to express his disagreement with the Mahatma on many vital issues of the times, outstanding be­ing the question of council entry to which Gandhiji and some of his tallest lieutenants were opposed. Even when Gandhiji chided him, he would insist on presenting his case, and nobody could stop him. Those familiar with political develop­ments in the South in those distant days, particularly in what is now Tamil Nadu, know the extent of respect he command­ed all round and the depth of affection the general run of Congress workers had for him. His dislike of jail-going pro­grammes was no secret, but when the command came he did go to jail, and it was jail life that caused a variety of ailments that finally led to his death without seeing the culmination of his struggle to make the legislatures the forums for bringing about social and eco­nomic changes in the country. Granting the difficulties involved in unearthing material long after his death, the volume under review cannot be said to bring out in all its richness a many­-sided life. But the author has certainly made a commendable effort, though his admiration for C. Rajagopalachari seems to have inhibited him from going into the relationship between the two with greater candour in the interests of histo­rical objectivity. First, about Satyamurti as a speaker. He could keep audiences spellbound for hours. He had only a handful of equals in the whole country. When public meet­ings had to be addressed, and these were obviously most important during the struggle, his health took second place. A bleeding-piles patient, he would neverthe­less undertake strenuous tours, speaking at dozens of meetings each day, and changing his dhoti after every meeting. Unlike C.R., who gave the impression that the whole universe revolved round himself, Satyamurti established mass contact through a band of second-line leaders, and Kamaraj was his find. With rare prescience he said in the thirties to a ...


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