Kamaraj, who came from the ethnic group of Tamils who began his political career in 1918 when he organized the age of fifteen fundraising for the Congress in his home district Virudhunagar. Because of his political activities and participation in organized by Mohandas Gandhi 's Salt March in March 1930 he was detained for more than seven years in the prisons of the British colonial administration. After his release, he was elected in 1937 to the Members of Parliament ( Legislative Assembly ) of Madras.
After the independence of India in 1947, he was elected in the general elections in 1952 for the Members of the lower house ( Lok Sabha ). On 13 April 1954 he was elected Chief Minister of Madras, now known as Tamil Nadu and thus the successor of C. Rajagopalachari, a nationally respected leader of the Congress Party. Kamaraj was born - unlike its predecessor - from a lower caste, so that his election as President of the Congress of the State of a descent of the Brahmins, who had hitherto dominated the politics of Madras meant. As Chief Minister, he sought the personal contact with the people and visited almost all villages of the state at least once. He also made primarily to improve the education system and deserves the fight against illiteracy. On 1 October 1963 he resigned after nine and a half years in office, retired as Chief Minister.
A few months later, he was first elected in 1964 at the convention of the Congress Party in Bhubaneswar as President of the Indian National Congress and each re-elected at the next annual congresses in 1965 in Durgapur and 1966 and 1967 in Jaipur. His name was associated in this period with a revitalization of the party in the form that several party officials held offices in the legislature functions assumed within the party leadership, said so-called " Kamaraj Plan" actually did not come from him. However, he exercised in the choice of two Prime Ministers - Lal Bahadur Shastri 1964 and 1966 of Indira Gandhi - considerable influence at the expense of the respective opposing candidates Morarji Desai, and thus is considered a " Kingmaker " in Indian politics. Once in his home town of Virudhunagar he was defeated in 1967 his candidacy as a delegate to the Parliament of Tamil Nadu, he lost by the influence of Prime Minister Gandhi and his office as President of the National Congress on S. Nijalingappa. In 1969 he tried along with several other senior party functions to overthrow the Prime Minister. After the failure of this attempt, he resigned from the Congress Party and formed for some years a small splinter group of the National Congress (Indian National Congress ( Organisation) ).
In 1971, he was at a by-election, however, re-elected member of the Lok Sabha and 1975, re-elected a few months before his death, also again in the constituency Nagercoil.
Bharat Ratna 1976, the highest civilian award of India, he was posthumously lose. In addition, in honor of the domestic terminal at Chennai airport is named " Kamaraj Terminal".