Freedom Struggle in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu stands tall in resisting the British Colonial rule. Palayakarars of the late 18th century made various attempts to establish freedom in Tamil Country.
After the defeat of Palayakarars, Indian sepoys and officers made an uprising in Vellore Fort in 1806 that reflected the feelings of several contentments of South India.
Due to Western Education and middle class educated Indians, the struggle took the constitutional path
The freedom battle in Tamil Nadu was special on the grounds that from the earliest starting point. It was not just a battle for freedom from the English Crown but additionally a battle for freedom from social evil forced by the caste framework.
Role of Tamil Nadu in Freedom Struggle
By the early 19th century, educated, white-collar class people started to raise their voices for public issues. These white-collar people started the Madras Native Association and Madras Mahajana Sabha.
Madras Native Association
The Madras Native Association (MNA) was one of the oldest associations formed in South India. It is founded by Gazulu Lakshminarasu, Srinivasanar, and their associates
Formed in 1852, the Madras Native association was mostly composed of merchants.
The association’s main motive was for individual and business benefits and their primary aim was to decrease the taxes imposed on their business. Then it also challenged the support of the Britain government to the Christian missionaries.
Sometimes they also voiced for the needs of the people. One of the important things done by the association was their legal battle against the government for the ill-treatment of the laborers by tax authorities.
This legal battle led to the foundation of the Torture Commission and the cancellation of the Torture Act which is the collection of tax by torturing the farmer or laborers.
The existence of the Madras Native Association ended in 1862.
Beginnings of the Nationalist Press
The Hindu and Swadesamitran
The first Indian Judge of the Madras High Court, T. Muthuswami was appointed in 1877. His appointment as Judge was widely criticized by the Press in Madras presidency.
Thereby people came to know the entire press was controlled by the Europeans. As a result, native people started newspapers to communicate their point of view. By this, G. Subramaniam, M. Veeraraghavachari, and several others started the newspaper named “The Hindu” in 1878.
Swadesamitran, a Tamil patriot magazine started by G. Subramaniam in 1891 and it was turned into daily in 1899.
The establishment of the Hindu and Swadesamitran gave hope to other newspapers and magazines such as Indian Patriot, South India Mail, Madras Standard, Desabhimani, Vijaya, Suryodayam, and India.
Madras Mahajana Sabha
Madras Mahajana Sabha (MMS) was the earliest association in South India that had a clear nationalist aim. The founder is M. Veeraraghavachari, P.Anandacharlu, P. Rangaiah.
The demands of Madras Mahajana Sabha are:
- The conduction of Civil Service Exams in India
- Cancellation of Council of India in London
- The cancellation of high taxes
- Reducing the army expense of British from the Indian revenue.
These demands are then taken by the Indian National Congress, as their agenda.
Madras Mahajana sabha prompted the development of an All India Association, the Indian National Congress from various parts of India went to a few gatherings before the arrangement of the congress.
The Theosophical Society in Madras, the gathering was held in December 1884 and this meeting was attended by Dadabhai Naoroji, K.T.Telang, Surendranath Banerjee, and other leaders.
Nationalists of Tamil Nadu in the Moderate stage
The early patriots accepted in constitutional ways, by exercising Public Hall meetings and debating the issues of the nation in the English language.
These views were conveyed to the administration through petitions. During the partition of Bengal, Tilak and others made mass open gatherings, vernacular dialects to address the masses. These early leaders were known as Moderates.
Tamil Moderates are V.S.Srinivasa Sastri, P.S.Sivasamy, V.Krishnasamy, T.R. Venkatramanar, G.A.Natesan, T.M.Madhava Rao, and S.Subramaniar. The main meeting of the Indian National Congress was held in 1885 at Bombay.
Out of 72 representatives, 22 individuals were from Madras. G. Subramaniam by his compositions inspired patriotism to many. G. Subramaniam with Naoroji and Gokhale for his commitment to the comprehension of the financial abuse of India by the British.
The subsequent meeting of the Indian National Congress was held in Calcutta in 1886, with Dadabhai Naoroji. The third meeting was held at Makki’s Garden, presently known as the Thousand lights, in Madras in 1887 with Badruddin Tyabji as president.
Out of the 607, all India representatives of 362 were from Madras Administration.
Tamil Nadu was then part of the Madras Presidency which included present-day Andhra Pradesh (Coastal areas and Rayalaseema), Karnataka (Bengaluru, Bellary, South Canara), Kerala (Malabar), and even Odisha (Ganjam).
In 1905, Bengal was Partitioned which ignited the Swadeshi Movement and changed the path of freedom struggle.
Many new leaders arrived and particularly a number of leaders came from Bengal, Punjab, and Maharashtra.
The Calcutta Congress session called the nationwide Swadeshi movement and asked people to boycott foreign goods and promote national education. The swadeshi movement also had its impact on Tamil Nadu.
1.Swadeshi Movement in Tamil Nadu
The important leaders of Tamilnadu are V.O.Chidambaranar, V.Chakkaraiyar, Subramania Bharati, and Surendranath Arya.
Numerous public meetings were conducted all over Tamilnadu. A number of magazines and newspapers were started to inspire Swadesi feelings.
Noticeable journals are India and Swadesamitran. Bipin Pal visited Madras and addressed the youth to participate in the Swadeshi Movement.
2.Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company
Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company was started by V.O. Chidambaranar at Thoothukudi. He bought two ships. VOV ship name is S.S.Gallia and S.S.Lavo and started transport between Thoothukudi and Colombo.
Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company went bankrupt due to double standards by the Government and strong competition from other European companies.
V.O.C got together with Subramania Siva in arranging the factory laborers in Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli. In 1908, he drove a strike in the European Coral Mills. It coincided with the release of Bipin Chandra Pal.
V.O.C and Subramania Siva organized public meetings to praise the arrival of Bipin and were arrested. The two chiefs were accused of rebellion and condemned to thorough detainment.
V.O.C. was given a severe sentence of two life imprisonment. The updates on the capture started revolts in Tirunelveli prompting the torching of the police headquarters, court, and municipal office.
It prompted the killing of four individuals in an open fire. V.O.C. was dealt with rigorous punishment in jail and was made to pull the oil press.
Others captured are G. Subramaniam and Ethiraj Surendranath Arya. To keep away from police imprisonment Subramania Bharati ran away to Pondicherry which was under French rule.
Bharati’s model was trailed by numerous different patriots, for example, Aurobindo Ghosh and V. V. Subramanianar. The merciless attack on Swadeshi leaders practically brought the Swadeshi Development to halt in Tamil Nadu.
4. Revolutionary Activities in Tamil Nadu
The Swadeshi movement inspired the youth. Many youths took the revolutionary path. Pondicherry provided a safe place for revolutionaries.
Many revolutionaries in Tamil Nadu were trained at India House in London and in Paris. M.P.T.Acharya, V.V.Subramanianar and T.S.S.Rajan was famous among them.
Revolutionary literature was distributed by them in Madras through Pondicherry. Radican papers such as India, Vijaya, and Suryodayam came out of Pondicherry.
Such revolutionary papers and Bharathi poems were banned. These activities in Pondicherry intensified with the arrival of Aurobindo Ghosh and V.V.Subramanianar in 1910. These activities continued till World War-I.
5. Ashe Murder
In 1904, Nilakanta Brahmachari and others started the Bharata Matha Society, a secret society. Their objective was to kill British officials and kindle patriotism among the people.
Vanchinathan of Sengottai was influenced by the organization. Vanchinathan shot Rober WDE Ashe, Collector of Tirunelveli in Maniyachi Junction, and shot himself. These people failed to inspire people.
6. Annie Besant and the Home Rule Movement
Moderates were disappointed with the Minto-Morley reforms as they did not provide a responsible government. Despite this, congress extended their support to the British in World War.
Annie Besant, an Irish Lady, and leader of the Theosophical Society proposed the Home Rule Movement on the model of the Irish Home rule league. Starting in 1916, carried demand for home rule all over the country.
G.S.Arundale, B.P.Wadia and C.P.Ramaswamy assisted her. Annie Besant wrote a newspaper called New India and Commonweal. She remarked, “Better Bullock Carts and Freedom than a train deluxe with Subjection”.
Under the Press Act of 1910, Annie Besant asked to pay a hefty amount as security. Annie Besant wrote two books namely, How India Wrought for Freedom and India: A Nation and a pamphlet on self-government.
Many students joined the Home Rule classes, formed into boy scouts and volunteer troops. Annie Besant and her followers were prohibited from making public speeches.
Annie Besant was elected the president of the congress session of 1917. Members of the Home Rule movement such as B.P.Wadia played a key role in organizing the working classes by forming trade unions.
They succeeded in improving their working conditions and made them part of the freedom struggle. The rise of Gandhi as National leader, Annie Besant, and the Home rule leagues were eclipsed.
Non-Brahmin Movement and the Challenge to Congress
Education grew rapidly in the madras presidency. There was an increase in the number of educated non-Brahmins. Political and social discussions were done by educated non-brahmins.
They raised issues such as caste discrimination, unequal opportunities in government employment, and representation in elected bodies that were dominated by brahmins. Further, Congress was fully composed of Brahmins.
(a) The South Indian Liberal Federation(SILF)
The Non-Brahmins organized political organization. C.Natesanar a.k.a C. Natesa Mudaliar founded the Madras Dravidian Association in 1912.
In June 1916 he established the Dravidian Association Hostel for non-Brahmin students. He also played a key role in uniting two big non-brahmin leaders T.M.Nair and P.Thyagarayar.
Both of them were earlier part of congress and sidelined by congress. On 20 November 1916, a meeting was held at Public Hall in Chennai under the leadership of P.Thyagarayar, T.M.Nair, and C.Natesanar with about 39 Non-Brahmins.
SILF was founded to promote the interests of the non-Brahmins. The newspaper published by the South Indian Liberal Federation are Justice (English), Dravidian (Tamil), and Andra Prakasika (Telugu).
The South Indian Liberal Federation was later known as Justice Party after its English Daily named Justice.
(b) Demand for Reservation
The non-Brahmin manifesto was released. Reservation of jobs for non-brahmins in government service, and seats in representative bodies. Non-brahmins feared that the Home rule movement was a brahmin and might give more powers to the brahmins. It also criticized the Congress party controlled fully by brahmins.
Montagu’s announcement of political reforms of 1917 intensified political discussions in Tamil Nadu. The justice party demanded communal representation.
The Madras government was also supportive of the Justice Party. The Justice party believed that English rule was conducive for the development of the non-brahmins. The act of 1919 provided reservation of seats to non-Brahmins, a move welcomed by the Justice party and criticized by congress.
(c) Justice Ministry
Congress boycotted the elections of 1920. Find out why? The justice party won 63 out of 98 seats in the Legislative Council. A.Subbarayalu of the Justice Party became the first Chief Minister.
After the 1923 election, Raja of Panagal of the Justice Party formed the ministry. Justice party introduced reservations for non-brahmins in appointment in local bodies and educational institutions.
They established the Staff Selection Board which later became the Public Service Commission. They enacted the Hindu Religious Endowment Act and Madras State Aid to Industries Act.
They abolished the devadasi system. Muthulakshi Reddy proposed this bill in the 1930s. But this bill was passed during the Premiership of O.P. Ramaswamy Reddiyar called Omandur Reddy.
The abolition of the devadasi system is referred to as the Madras Devadasis (Prevention of Dedication) Act or the Tamil Nadu Devadasis Act. This act was enacted on 9 October 1947.
Periyar E.V.Ramasamy was part of the Devadasi abolition bill and suggested to pass as Private Bill rather than Public Bill. They allotted the Poramboke Land (Waster Government Lands) to the poor for housing.
Primary education to the depressed classes through fee concessions. Scholarship and mid-day meals programme for students.
Government’s Repressive Measures
- Rowlatt Act
After World War-I, the British passed a draconian Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act popularly known as the Rowlatt Act. The act was named after Sir Sidney Rowlatt, who passed in 1919.
According to the Rowlatt act, anyone could be imprisoned on charges of terrorism without judicial process. Gandhi went against the Rowlatt act by the non-violence method known as the Satyagraha that he used in South Africa.
Rowlatt Satyagraha on march 18,1919 Gandhi addressed a meeting on Marina Beach. On 6 April 1919 hartal was organized to protest against the “Black Act”. Protest demonstrations were held in several parts of Tamil Nadu.
Processions from many areas of the city gathered at Marina Beach. The large gathering devoted the whole day to fasting and prayer in the marina beach.
Madras Satyagraha Sabha was formed. Rajaji, Kasturirangar, S.Satyamurti, and Geoge Joseph addressed the meeting. A separate meeting of workers was addressed by V.Kalyanasundaram a.k.a Thiru.V.Ka, B.P.Wadia and V.O.C.
The important feature of this movement was a large number of students, women and working-class people participated.
- George Joseph
George Joseph, a barrister, and good speaker led from the front for the cause of the Home rule league in Madurai. Born in Chengannur, Alappuzha district, Kerala, and practiced as a lawyer.
He led Vaikom satyagraha in Kerala and championed the cause of the “criminal tribes of Tamilnadu”.
He was affectionately called “Rosaappu Durai” by the people and helped Harvey Mill workers of Madurai to set up Madurai Labour Union in 1918. The initial struggles of the union resulted in higher wages and reduced work hours.
(c) Khilafat Movement
After World War-I, the Caliph of Turkey was humiliated and all its power was taken away. To restore the Caliph the Khilafat movement was started.
In Tamil Nadu, Khilafat Day was observed on 17 April 1920, with a meeting led by Maulana Shaukat Ali. Another conference was held at Erode. Vaniyambadi was the epicenter of Khilafat agitation in Tamil Nadu.
(d) Non-Cooperation Movement
Tamil Nadu was active during the non-cooperation movements. C.Rajaji and E.V.Ramaswamy provided leadership to the non-cooperation movement in Tamil Nadu.
Rajaji worked with Yakub Hasan, founded the Madras branch of the Muslim League. Congress volunteers distribute pamphlets, maintaining order in the public meetings. They played an important role in picketing liquor shops.
(e) No Tax Campaigns and the Temperance Movement
As a part of the non-cooperation movement, cultivators refused to pay taxes. The No-Tax Campaign took place in Thanjavur. Councils, schools, and courts were boycotted.
Foreign goods were boycotted. The worker announced strikes. One of the important features of the movement in Tamil Nadu is a movement against liquor that is called the Temperance Movement.
Toddy shops were picketed. The agitation by communities against the Criminal Tribes Act. In 1921, November, it was decided to organize civil disobedience.
Rajaji, E.V.Ramasamy (Periyar) and Subramania Sastri were arrested. The Visit of the Prince of Wales on 13 January 1922 was boycotted. Two were killed and many injured by Police repression. The Non-Cooperation movement was withdrawn in 1922 after the Chari Chaura Incident which killed 22 policemen.
(f) E.V.R. and the Constructive Programme
He campaigned for the promotion of the sale of khadi and opposed the consumption of liquor. Then Periyar cut down the entire coconut grove owned by him.
Also, Periyar, played a key role in Vaikom Satyagraha, in Travancore. In those days, so-called low caste people, even cannot walk on the road near to temple. After several leaders of Kerala were arrested, Periyar went to Kerala to make the Vaikom Satyagraha.
For leading the Vaikom Satyagraha he was imprisoned for a month. Even after the release, he was arrested again for making inspiring speeches and he was imprisoned for six months.
After the release, he was arrested again for the speeches to promote Khadi. In June 1925, the ban on the roads around the temple in Vaikom was lifted. For his contribution to Vaikom Satyagraha, he was hailed as ‘Vaikom Hero’.
Cheranmahadevi Gurukulam Controversy
By this time EVR, dissatisfied with the Congress, felt it was promoting the interest of the Brahmin alone. Cheranmadevi Gurukulam controversy and opposition to communal representation with the congress led EVR to leave the congress.
For the cause of National education, a Gurukulam was established in Cheranmadevi by V.V.Subramanianar and it received funds from the congress. But the students were discriminated against on the basis of caste.
For Brahmin and Non-Brahmin students were made to dine separately and the food served too was different. The issue was brought to the notice of EVR who criticized it along with Dr. P.Varadarajulu.
In the Kanchipuram Conference of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee that was held on 21 November 1925, he raised the issue of representation for non-brahmins in the legislature.
His resolution was defeated, EVR left the conference with other non-brahmin leaders. Soon EVR left congress and started a self-respect movement.
(f) Swarajists–Justicites Rivalry
Congress was divided after the withdrawal of the non-cooperation movement. The division was between the people who want to quit the councils and people who want to continue in the council and contest for elections.
Rajaji and other Gandhian followers opposed the council’s entry. Rajaji, Kasturirangar, and M.A.Ansari advocated the boycott of the councils.
Opposition to this led to the formation of the Swaraj Party within the congress by Chittaranjan Das and Motilal Nehru. In Tamil Nadu, the Swarajist were led by S.Srinivasanar and S.Satyamurti.
(g) Subbarayan Ministry
In the election, the Swarajists won the majority in 1926. But it refused to accept the congress policies. Instead, they supported an Independent P.Subbarayan to form the ministry.
The Swarajists did not contest in elections held in 1930. That made the justice party win easily and justice stayed in office till 1937.
(h) Simon Commission Boycott
Sir John Simon, under him a statutory commission was formed to review the Act of 1919. The disappointment was, the commission is full of white members and there were no Indians in it.
As a result, congress boycotted the commission. In Madras, the Simon Boycott Propaganda Committee was set up with S.Satyamurti as President.
There was widespread agitation against the Simon Commission. The arrival of the Simon Commission in Madras on 18 February 1929 was greeted with demonstrations and hartals, Black flags were shown against the commission.
The police force suppressed the protest. Agitation for removal of Neil statue in 1927, Protesters came all over the Madras Presidency and led by S.N.Somayajulu of Tirunelveli.
Neil statue satyagraha of 1927, in madras presidency, to remove Neil Statue who was a war hero of English during the revolt of 1857. Somayajulu and Swaminatha Mudaliar were arrested, K. Kamaraj became the leader of the agitation in September 1927.
Gandhi gave support to the agitation. The statue was finally moved to Madras Museum when C.Rajaji formed the government in 1937.
Civil Disobedience Movement
(a) Towards Poorna Swaraj
In 1920, under the leadership of Gandhi, Tamil Nadu was transforming into a broad-based movement. The Madras session of the India National Congress declared complete independence as its goat in 1927.
It appointed a committee under Motilal Nehru to frame the constitutional reforms in opposition to the Simon Commission. In 1929, at the Lahore session of the Congress, Poorna Swaraj that is complete independence was adopted on 26 January 1930.
And the National Flag was hoisted by Jawaharlal Nehru on the banks of river Ravi as the declaration of independence.
(b) Salt March to Vedaranyam
The Viceroy did not accept the demands forwarded by Gandhi, he launched the Civil Disobedience Movement by setting on a salt satyagraha with a march to Dandi on 12 March 1930.
Tamil Nadu was at the forefront of the Civil disobedience movement. In madras city, foreign goods were boycotted. Rajaji let a salt satyagraha march to Vedaranyam.
The salt satyagraha started from Tiruchirappalli on 13 April 1930 and reached Vedaranya in Thanjavur district on 28 April. A special song was composed for the march by Namakkal V. Ramalinganar with the lines, “A War is ahead sans sword, sans bloodshed…Join this march.”
On reaching Vedaranyam 12 volunteers under the leadership of Rajaji broke the salt law by picking up salt. Rajaji was arrested.
T.S.S. Rajan, Rukmani Lakshmipathi, Sardar Vedarathnam, C. Swaminathar, and K. Santhanam were among the prominent leaders who participated in the Vedaranyam Salt Satyagraha.
(c) Widespread Agitations in Tamil Districts
T.Prakasam and K.Nageswara Rao set up camp at Udayavanam near Madras. The police arrested them which led to hartal in Madras.
On 27 April 1930 Police clashed with the protester, leaving three dead. The protesters who offered Salt Satyagraha in Rameswaram were arrested. Similar protests in Uvari, Anjengo, Veppalodai, Thoothukudi, and Tharuvaikulam were arrested.
Mill workers and women participated. Rukmani Lakshmipathi was the woman to pay a penalty for violating the salt laws. Bhashyam popularly known as Arya hoisted the national flag in Fort St. George on 26 January 1932.
Satyamurti picketed shop which sells foreign goods, and distributed pamphlets. N.M.R.Subbaraman and K. Kamaraj played an important role in these protests.
Kodikatha Kumaran Martyrdom of Tirupur Kumaran
O.K.S.R.Kumaraswamy, popularly known as Tirupur Kumaran, carried the National flag and was brutally beaten by Police in Tirupur.
He fell dead carrying the National flag. This made the large people participate in the Civil disobedience movement from all sections.
(d) First Congress Ministry
Provincial Autonomy was introduced by the Government of India Act of 1935. The Council of ministers was made responsible to the Legislature, which administered the provincial subjects.
The Governor had the power to advise the elected government. Congress won the 1937 elections and the justice party was defeated.
Rajaji formed the first congress ministry and introduced a prohibition on an experimental basis in Salem. To compensate for the loss of revenue he introduced a sales tax.
Rajaji opened temples to the so-called “ Untouchables”. By the serious efforts of T.Prakasam led to the appointment of a committee to enquire into the condition of the tenants in the Zamindari areas.
No measures were implemented to reduce indebtedness. Congress resigned the government due to pulling India into the second world war without consulting the elected congress ministries.
A temple entry programme into Madurai Meenakshi Amman was organized by Vaidyanathar, L.N.Gopalsamy, President and Secretary of Madurai Harijan Sevak Sangh respectively on 9 July 1939.
The Temple Entry Authorisation and Indemnity Act was passed in 1939 for the removal of social evils against the depressed classes.
(e) Anti-Hindi Agitation
Rajaji introduced Hindi as a compulsory language in School. It was considered as Aryan and North India imposition on Tamil Language and culture.
E.V.R led a massive campaign against the Hindi imposition and organized an anti-Hindi conference at Salem. The Scheduled Castes Federation and the Muslim League extended their support to anti-Hindi agitation.
Thalamuthu and Natarajan, two agitators died in prison. A rally was organized from Tiruchirappalli to Madras and more than 1200 protestors including E.V.R were arrested.
After the resignation of the congress from the ministry, the governor took over the power and removed Hindi as a compulsory subject.
Quit India Struggle
The failure of the Cripps mission made people uncomfortable. Gandhi passed the Quit India Resolution on August 8, 1942, and gave the slogan ‘Do or Die. The total congress leadership was arrested.
K. Kamaraj escaped from being arrested while returning from Bombay and then organized the underground Quit India Movement in the South.
Rajaji and Satyamurti were arrested while distributing the pamphlets. The movement was widespread in Tamilnadu and there were many incidents of violence such as cutting of telegraph lines, stopping railway traffic, and setting fire to the post office.
A large number of strikes in Buckingham and Carnatic mills, Madras Port Trust, Madras Corporation, and the Electric Tramway. Telegraph and telephone lines were cut and public buildings burnt at Vellore and Panapakkam.
College students also participated in the protest. The airport in Sulur was attacked and trains derailed in Coimbatore. Congress volunteers clashed with the military in Madurai.
There were several instances of police firings at Rajapalayam, Karaikudi, and Devakottai. Many young men and women also joined the INA. The Quit India Movement was suppressed with brutal force.
The Royal India Navy Mutiny, the negotiations initiated by the newly formed Labour Party Government in England gave India independence and the country was partitioned into India and Pakistan.
Vellore Mutiny (1806)
The British administration prohibited the Hindu soldiers from smearing religious marks on their foreheads. Ordered the Muslims to shave their beard and trim their mustache.
This created great anger among soldiers. The soldiers were instigated by the sons of Tipu Sultan to revolt against the British.
On 9th July 1806, One of the Tipu Sultan’s daughters was to be married in Vellore. The revolting soldiers gathered at the fort like attending the wedding.
The soldiers surrounding the fort killed most of the Europeans and unfurled the flag of Tipu over the fort. Tipu’s second son Fateh Hyder was declared as the ruler. But the great British army crushed the revolt.
Subramaniya Siva born in Vathalagundu in Dindugal District. He was a creative writer and a freedom fighter. He was arrested many times between 1908 and 1922 for his antiimperialist activities.
While serving prison he suffered from leprosy and was shifted to Salem Jail. When Siva was unable to walk due to leprosy, the British Government enacted a law for Siva, stating that leprosy patients should not travel by train.
He traveled foot through his whole body was covered with sores. Eventually died of the disease on 23 July 1925.
He was born in Tirumayyam, Madras Presidency on August 19, 1887. He started practicing as a lawyer prior to joining the National Movement.
At a young age, he emerged as the foremost leader of the Indian National Congress. He was the political mentor of K.Kamaraj. Rajagopalachar nominated Satyamurti to succeed him as the President of the India National Congress in Tamil Nadu in 1930.
He was also mayor of Madras in 1939, leading a campaign to restore public education, improve water supply, etc. In 1919, Congress selected him as its representative to join the Parliamentary committee to protest the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms and the Rowlatt act.
To honor him, the Headquarters of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee was named after Satyamurti Bhavan. He participated in the Swadeshi Movement and Quit India Movement and was imprisoned several times, eventually he passed away on 28th March 1943.