Muraleedharan set to return to Congress fold

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM - K. Muralidheeran, the son of late Congress veteran K. Karunakaran, was Tuesday given the green signal to return to the Congress party after being suspended for six years. He said he was “delighted” and would work towards the party coming back to power in the state.

“I am really delighted that I have been given permission to return to the Congress party and the only request I have is that all those who will return to the party along with me should not be treated as second class citizens,” Muraleedharan told reporters here soon after news came that his suspension had been lifted.

His six-year suspension was lifted after leader of opposition in the Kerala assembly Oommen Chandy and state party chief Ramesh Chennithala held a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi Tuesday morning.

The Congress is yet to give an official statement in this regard.

“The good thing is that I have been able to return with the concurrence of all leaders in the party, even though I had to wait about 20 months. The time of factionalism in the Congress party is over. Now we will work for the return of the (Congress-led) United Democratic Front (UDF) to power by winning more than 100 seats in the 140-member assembly,” Muraleedharan said.

Muraleedharan was suspended from the Congress in March 2005 on disciplinary grounds. He and his father Karunakaran then formed the Democratic Indira Congress-Karunakaran (DIC-K) in May 2005. A year later, the DIC-K merged with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a Left ally. But the Left not only said ‘no’ to him, but also booted out the NCP from its ranks.

While Karunakaran returned to the Congress fold in December 2007, Muraleedharan did not.

One of the main reasons for Muraleedharan’s return a few months before his suspension period ends is that Karunakaran’s last wish was to see his son back in the Congress fold. Karunakaran died Dec 24 last year at the age of 92.

Muraleedharan’s sister Padmaja Venugopal said that their father’s soul would now be happy.

“No doubt, Muraleedharan is a great organizer and was an effective party president here and he is got all the merit to contest the forthcoming polls,” said Padmaja.

Muraleedharan had become state party president in 2001, hours after A.K. Antony was sworn in as chief minister in May 2001 as part of the power-sharing between the Karunakaran and Antony factions.

He remained state party chief till January 2004, when he was made a minister in the Antony cabinet, when internal party affairs reached a flashpoint.

But after a by-election held along with the Lok Sabha polls in 2004, Muraleedharan became the first ever minister to step down after being defeated in the polls and once again turned against the party, which led to his suspension.

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