Debating India

Holy trinity in Kerala politics


Sunday 25 April 2004, by RAMACHANDRAN*Rajesh

NEW DELHI: In Kerala, the father, son and the holy spirit have stopped fighting each other. Congress veteran K Karunakaran, his son Muralidharan and the holier-than-thou chief minister AK Antony have patched up with a friendship formula more weird than their fight.

The father goes to the Rajya Sabha, the daughter gets Mukundapuram LS seat, the son contests from Vadakkancherry assembly seat to remain a minister and Antony is assured of stability till the polls.

Would such a peace in the party make people poll for the holy trinity? Well, this is one reason why the CPM led Left Democratic Front hopes to better its performance.

Congress is like a coalition between the Karunakaran faction, Antony faction and two smaller groups. And that too a bad one which cannot be managed by a common minimum programme because the CMP is power.

How power drives each faction to the extremities of the state’s politics could be understood by recalling that Antony had earlier walked out of Congress and joined LDF to defeat Karunakaran-led Congress.

And more than anyone else, Antony knows how debilitating such a split could be. After all, this trendsetter state had rejected the single party rule of Congress even while it was Travancore-Cochin.

And much before Mandal dawned in north India, Kerala had parties for Nairs, Ezhavas, Christians and Muslims. And to Karunakaran’s credit he had forged a coalition of these forces to form a government.

Antony took Karunakaran’s recent threat to split the party seriously because the LDF hinted it’s willingness to support Karunakaran from outside. Karunakaran was ousted from power in 1995 and Antony made the CM when the former had over a year to go.

When the Congress-led United Democratic Front returned to power after the mandatory five-year interlude of the LDF rule, Antony again bacame the CM. But Karunakaran began pleading, fighting and blackmailing for his residual term in office.

His plans floundered for two reasons: the Left was never serious as it wanted early elections not the ignominy of supporting Karunakaran and Karunakaran’s flock was in disarray as it felt the ’leader’ was more interested in promoting his children than them.

Karunakaran’s chelas read their leader correctly. Antony played on to the Octagenarian’s biggest weakness, his children, by accomodating both of them in crucial positions.

See online : The Times of India


in The Times of India, Sunday, April 25, 2004.

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