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Karunakaran, Cong's headache

In or out of the party, Karunakaran continues to haunt the Congress. It is currently facing the dilemma of whether to readmit him or not, writes Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2006 18:57 IST

In or out of the party, Karunakaran continues to haunt the Congress. It is currently facing the dilemma of whether to readmit him or not.

Most of the allies of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) and senior leaders like A.K. Antony are all for the return of the veteran leader. But with the countdown to the assembly elections having already begun, none of the state leaders want to upset the newfound unity in the party.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy, PCC chief Ramesh Chennithala and Union minister Vayalar Ravi are among those who’re against Karunakaran’s entry in any form — neither as a partner, nor as a real homecoming. They argue that people punished them severely in elections held since 2003 because of perennial infighting. Many middle-level leaders whose career prospects have brightened with the end of “group and quota politics” will also resist the move.

But many constituents of the UDF, especially the smaller ones, are worried over the damage Karunakaran can inflict on them. There are 50-odd seats (of a total of 140) in the state where the winning margin is as low as 2,500 votes. And they argue that he could really play spoilsport in these places. They feel that a wounded Karunakaran would be more dangerous to the UDF than to the LDF. So, they want to avoid enraging him at any cost.

Meanwhile, the Indian Union Muslim League and Janadipatya Samrakshana Samiti have held discussions with Karunakaran. These parties are looking forward to the state plenary session of the Congress in Kochi, the first of its kind in the past 18 years, to be inaugurated by party chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday. She is expected to unveil the coalition’s strategy for the assembly polls.

Well aware of the uneasiness in the UDF camp, the wily leader is playing his cards close to his chest. Left in the cold by the CPM, he isn’t ready to take another chance. He’s waiting for a signal from the Congress before making his next move clear. All said and done, the Karunakaran issue is likely to dominate the plenary session.

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 02:30 IST