P. T. Rajan

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Ponnambala Thiaga Rajan
P. T. Rajan in 1934
Member of Madras Legislative Assembly for Cumbum
In office
Premier Chakravarti Rajagopalachari,
K. Kamaraj
Governor Sri Prakasa,
A. J. John, Anaparambil
Chief Minister of Madras Presidency
In office
April 4, 1936 – August 24, 1936
Governor John Erskine, Lord Erskine, Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu (acting)
Preceded by Raja of Bobbili
Succeeded by Raja of Bobbili
Personal details
Born 12 April 1892
Died September 25, 1974(1974-09-25) (aged 82)
Nationality Indian
Political party Justice Party
Alma mater

The Leys School, Cambridge,

Jesus College, Oxford
Occupation politician
Profession lawyer

Sir Ponnambala Thiaga Rajan (12 April 1892 – 25 September 1974) was the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency from April 4, 1936, to August 24, 1936.[1][2] He was also the last President of the Justice Party.

P. T. Rajan was born in Uthamapalayam and educated at The Leys School, Cambridge and Jesus College, Oxford. He graduated in history and law and practised as an advocate for some time before joining the Justice Party.

Rajan was elected to the Madras Legislative Council as a Justice Party candidate in 1920 and served as a legislator till his defeat in 1937. He held various offices such as the Minister of Public Works and then, the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency. From 1939 to 1944, Rajan supported Periyar but broke off and headed the rebel Justice Party till 1957. Rajan was elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly in 1952 and served as a legislator from 1952 to 1957. Rajan died in 1974 at the age of 82.

Rajan's son Palanivel Rajan served as a minister of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and speaker of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from 1996 to 2001.

Early life[edit]

Ponnambala Thyaga Rajan[3] was born in 1892 in Theni. He was educated at Ley's School,[4] Cambridge and graduated in history [5] from Jesus College, Oxford University[4][6] in 1915.[7] He later studied law and was called to Bar in 1917[4] and practised as an advocate[4][6] before joining the Justice Party in the early 1920s.

Political career[edit]

Rajan stood as a Justice Party candidate in the 1920 elections and was elected as a member of the Madras Legislative Council. He was also instrumental in getting W. P. A. Soundrapandian Nadar nominated to the Madras Legislative Council as a Justice Party nominee.[8]

In government[edit]

In 1930, when the Justice Party returned to power after a gap of 4 years, Rajan was appointed Minister of Public Works. He served as a minister in the governments of P. Munuswamy Naidu and the Raja of Bobbili.[9] On April 4, 1936, he succeeded the Raja of Bobbili was the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency and held the post till August 24, 1936, when the Raja of Bobbili once again became the chief minister.[2] He was knighted on 1 February 1937.[10]

In 1939, he joined Periyar and wholeheartedly supported his demand for secession from India.[11] However, he broke off with a few others in 1944 when Periyar renamed the Justice Party as Dravidar Kazhagam and converted the political party into a non-political social organization.[11][12][13]

As President of Justice Party[edit]

Rajan along with a few dissidents floated a new Justice Party and claimed that their organisation was the original Justice Party.[11][13][14] B. Ramachandra Reddi, who was President of the Madras Legislative Council between 1930 and 1937 was tentatively elected Party President[15] but resigned in 1945 and was succeeded by Rajan.[13][16] The Justice Party did not contest in the 1946 Assembly elections [17] but participated in the 1951 elections, the first as a part of independent India.[18][19] The Justice Party contested nine seats as an unrecognised state-level party of which the party won one.[18] Rajan stood from Madurai North as well as Cumbum.[18] While Rajan lost badly from Madurai North winning only 11% of the total votes polled and finished third, he won by a margin of 11,359 votes from Cumbum.[18][19] The Justice Party did not contest in the 1957 Assembly elections and was eventually dissolved.[20]

Rajan contested as an independent from Uthamapalayam in the 1957 Assembly elections and polled 24,256 votes losing to K. Pandiaraj of the Indian National Congress by a margin of 6,303 votes.[20] Rajan did not contest any more elections after the defeat.

Political activism and ideology[edit]

P. T. Rajan, as a leading non-Brahmin leader, supported the appointment of non-Brahmin trustess to temples in Tamil Nadu.[21] In the early 1950s, through his efforts, the present panchaloha idol of Lord Iyappan was installed at Sabarimalai and a procession was taken all over Madras state.[22][23] A road in K. K. Nagar, Chennai has been named in his memory as "Sir P.T. Rajan Road".[24]


P. T. Rajan's uncle M. T. Subramania Mudaliar of Uthamapalayam was a member of the Dravidian Association and one of the early leaders of the Non-Brahmin Movement. He was always consulted with regard to the choice of Ministers by early Chief Ministers such as the Raja of Panagal.[25]

P. T. Rajan's son Palanivel Rajan was a politician of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.[23] He served as the Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from 1996 to 2001[26] and In 2006, he served as the Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments in the Government of M. Karunanidhi briefly before his death on May 20, 2006.[23][27]


Rajan's lavish spendings as Minister for Development under the Munuswamy Naidu regime at the height of the Great Depression along with those of others, invited the wrath of the media.

The newspaper India reported in the March 25, 1932 edition:

When the country is on fire, when the axe of retrenchment has fallen on the poor and when the people are experiencing intense suffering under the heavy burden of taxation, the Madras ministers have started on their tours immediately after passing of the Budget. The tour of Honourable Mr. P. T. Rajan causes us heart-burning. We have to feel sorry that the Ministers have been reduced to such a deplorable state. Mr. Rajan is going to Hindupur today which is at a distance of 400 miles from Madras for laying the foundation stone for a Taluk Board School. For this trivial affair, the Minister is squandering the money of the poor tax payer[28][29]


  1. ^ "Provinces of British India". World Statesmen. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  2. ^ a b "List of Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu". Government of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  3. ^ South Indian Celebrities, Pg 54
  4. ^ a b c d The Times of India Directory and Year Book, Including Who's who. Bennett, Coleman & Co. 1977. p. 982. 
  5. ^ Rajan, P. T.; K. Paramasivam (1973). Sir P. T. Rajan's Eighty Second Birthday Souvenir, 1973. Justice Party. p. 237. 
  6. ^ a b Marshall, Peter James (1996). The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire. Cambridge University. p. 365. ISBN 978-0-521-00254-7. 
  7. ^ Oxford University Calendar. University of Oxford. 1927. p. 802. 
  8. ^ Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber (1984). The Modernity of Tradition: Political Development in India. University of Chicago. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-226-73137-7. 
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 150
  10. ^ London Gazette, 1 February 1937
  11. ^ a b c Ghevergese Joseph, George (2003). George Joseph, the Life and Times of a Kerala Christian Nationalist. Orient Blackswan. p. 231. ISBN 978-81-250-2495-8. 
  12. ^ Rajawat, Mamta (2005). Encyclopaedia of Dalits in India. Anmol Publications PVT Ltd. p. 245. ISBN 978-81-261-2084-0. 
  13. ^ a b c Baliga, B. S. (1957). Madras District Gazetteers. Government of Madras. p. 136. 
  14. ^ Bhaskaran, R. (1967). Sociology of Politics: Tradition and Politics in India. Asia Publishing House. p. 47. 
  15. ^ B. A. V. Sharma (1980). Political economy of India: a study of land reforms policy in Andhra Pradesh. Light and Life Publishers. p. 172. 
  16. ^ Nārāyaṇan̲, Ka Ilakkumi; T. Gangadharan; N. Chandrasekar (1999). Salem City: An Ethnohistory (1792–1992). Vysya college. p. 90. 
  17. ^ Bandyopādhyāẏa, Śekhara (2004). From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Orient Blackswan. p. 349. ISBN 8125025960, ISBN 978-81-250-2596-2. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Statistical report on General Election 1951 to the Legislative Assembly of Madras" (PDF). Election Commission of India. 
  19. ^ a b Ramachandran, V. K. (April 24, 2004). "Not good practice". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  20. ^ a b "Statistical report on General Election 1957 to the Legislative Assembly of Madras" (PDF). Election Commission of India. 
  21. ^ Ghose, Rajeshwari (1996). The Tyāgarāja cult in Tamilnāḍu: A Study in Conflict and Accommodation. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 350. ISBN 812081391X, ISBN 978-81-208-1391-5. 
  22. ^ W. Clothey, Fred; A. K. Ramanujan (1978). The Many Faces of Murukan̲: The History and Meaning of a South Indian God. Walter De Gruyter. p. 201. ISBN 978-90-279-7632-1. 
  23. ^ a b c Kumar, S. Vijay (May 21, 2006). "Madurai mourns its colossal boss". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  24. ^ Gravediggers on the prowl on KK Nagar roads
  25. ^ Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 128
  26. ^ "Tamil Nadu 11th Assembly 1996–2001". Government of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  27. ^ "P.T.R.Rajan Passes Away". The Hindu (Chennai, India). May 21, 2006. 
  28. ^ Manikumar, K. A. (2003). A Colonial Economy in the Great Depression, Madras (1929–1937). Orient Blackswan. p. 185. ISBN 978-81-250-2456-9. 
  29. ^ Manikumar, K. A. (2003). A Colonial Economy in the Great Depression, Madras (1929–1937). Orient Blackswan. p. 186. ISBN 978-81-250-2456-9. 


  • Balasubramaniam, K. M. (1934). South Indian Celebrities Vol 1. Madras: Solden & Co. 
  • Ralhan, O. P. (2002). Encyclopaedia of Political Parties. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. ISBN 978-81-7488-865-5. 
Preceded by
Member of the Madras Legislative Council
1920 - 1937
Succeeded by
Preceded by
M. R. Sethuratnam Iyer
Minister of Development, Public Works and Registration
(Madras Presidency)

1930 - 1937
Succeeded by
Maulana Yakub Hasan Sait
Preceded by
Raja of Bobbili
Chief Minister of Madras Presidency
4 April 1936– 24 August 1936
Succeeded by
Raja of Bobbili
Preceded by
E. V. Ramasami
President of the South Indian Liberal Federation
1945 - 1957
Succeeded by
Party dissolved
Preceded by
Member of the Madras Legislative Assembly for Cumbum
1952 - 1957
Succeeded by