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The end of an era in Kerala ?as Karunakaran passes away.

The leader played crucial roles in the politics of his state

Thirvuvananthapuram An era in Kerala politics came to an end yesterday evening, at the state's capital city, when former chief minister and Congress veteran K. Karunakaran, a colossus in the Congress unit in the state, passed away at a private hospital. The end came around 5.30 pm local time. Karunakaran was 92.

The man who was known as Leader to his tens of thousands of admirers within and outside his party, and the common man, had played crucial roles in the tumultuous political atmosphere in Kerala over nearly seven decades, beginning in 1937 when he formally joined the party.

Karunakaran's rise was steady and strong in the early years when he mainly focused on the trade union activities through the Indian National Trade Union Congress, and later his career graph rose meteorically, making him a nationally-renowned Congress leader.

The height of his political career may have been reached in the 1990s, when he played a key role in crowning the late P.V. Narasimha Rao as the prime minister of India, when the Congress party was picking itself up from the shock assassination of Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur.

Karunakaran was also a federal minister for a brief while, but his political arena was clearly Kerala, where he and A.K. Antony, the present defence minister of the country, were the two giants of the Congress in the state, and who between them occupied the chief minister's post for decades.


When the end came this evening, his children K. Muraleedharan and daughter Padmaja Venugopal were at his side. His wife Kalyanikutty Amma had already passed away.

Top leaders of the Congress and other political parties immediately rushed to Thiruvananthapuram on hearing the news, from different parts of the country.

Karunakaran, who has been the political guru of scores of Congressmen in the state who are in senior positions today, was also acclaimed as one of the most efficient leaders the state has seen. Many major infrastructure projects in the state, including the international airport in Nedumbassery and the power project at Kayamkulam are credited to the administrative acumen of the late leader and his team.

Other projects that he envisioned include the Gosree project, the Guruvayur railway line and the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi. Karunakaran also holds the records for being the person who has become the state's chief minister the most number of times, and also the first Congress chief minister who had the full five-year tenure, from 1982-87.

Karunakaran was always close to Indira Gandhi and stood by her in 1969 when the party split, and did not leave her in the days after the Emergency when several leaders from Kerala including A.K. Antony had left her. However, in later years after the Congress factions had merged, Karunakaran had serious differences of opinion with different factions within the party, which ultimately led to his leaving the party.


He later rejoined the party, but by then his son K. Muraleedharan had also become an outcast for the party. In the months preceding his father's death, Muraleedharan had been attempting a re-entry into the party, which has been futile.

One black mark in Karunakaran's political career was the infamous Rajan case, in which an engineering student, Rajan, was taken into custody by police when Karunakaran was the home minister. Karunakaran had a serious career setback following the death of Rajan and the efforts of Rajan's father Eacharavaryar, to get justice for his deceased son's dented image.


Political guru

Senior Congress party leader K. Karunakaran, left, talks to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, center, and Congress party President Sonia Gandhi in September. Karunakaran died yesterdazy evening at the age of 92.


Political career

1918 July 5: Birth at Chirakkal, Kannur.

Parents: Ravunni Marar, Kalyani Amma.

1942: Participated in the Quit India movement.

1945: Member of the Thrissur Municipal Council.

1971-77 Minister in the Achutha Menon ministry.

1977, 81-82, 82-87, 91-95 Chief minister of Kerala.

1993: Death of wife Kalyani Kutty Amma.

2005: Plays role in formation of Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran).

2006: Merges DIC(K) with NCP

2008: Returns to Congress fold.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Dec 24, 2010
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