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Sonia Gandhi 'pardons' Karunakaran
George Iype in Kochi |
April 21, 2003 18:56 IST
The reward for open revolt against the party leadership in the Congress seems to be pardon as Sonia Gandhi has decided to 'forget and forgive' veteran Kerala leader K Karunakaran for his recent rebellion against the party high command.
On an invitation from Gandhi, Karunakaran -- whose rebel nominee contested the Rajya Sabha elections in Kerala -- is in Delhi for consultations with the Congress president for a possible compromise with his arch-rival in the state politics Chief Minister A K Anthony.
Party sources disclosed that Gandhi has decided 'to pardon' Karunakaran though he openly defied the party high command and put up a rebel candidate against the official Congress nominees in the Upper House elections last week.
Karunakaran's nominee, Kodoth Govindan Nair, was defeated by the official candidates --Thennala Balakrishna Pillai and Vayalar Ravi -- in the Rajya Sabha elections held on April 16 under the worst infighting in the party in the recent years.
While Nair was expelled from the party for six years, a section of Congress leaders in Kerala have been demanding strict disciplinary action against Karunakaran and 24 party legislators who sided with the senior leader and voted against the official candidates.
But party officials admitted that Gandhi, who has studied a report on the rebellion in the state Congress unit, has decided not to take any disciplinary action against Karunakaran and his followers because of two reasons.
First, the party high command is said to be frightened of the prospects of expelling a veteran leader like Karunakaran, which many in the Congress argue that would only increase dissidence and revolt in other state units.
"Elections are coming and the party president does not want any strong disciplinary actions against leaders like Karunakaran. It will badly affect the image of the party at the national level," pointed out a senior Kerala Congress politician.
Secondly, the party leadership is also afraid that Karunakaran being a shrewd politician might overthrow the Antony government. "Karunakaran is capable of luring the coalition partners of the Anthony government. Punishment against Karunakaran may lead to the fall of the Anthony government because Karunakaran is an astute politician than Anthony," the Congress leader added.
Anthony's close aide and senior party leader Oommen Chandy said that the party high command is free to take any disciplinary action against those who acted against the Congress.
"But nobody wants any division in the Congress party in Kerala and we all want to work with Anthony and Karunakaran together. So if there is a scope for an honest compromise, then the Congress is a party which looks at such a possibility," Chandy told rediff.com.
Party sources said that the conciliatory efforts at pacifying Karunakaran also came from Anthony as the chief minister is also said to be not in a mood for any disciplinary action against the senior Congress politician.
But it is certain Karunakaran would submit before Gandhi a set of demands, which could include the revocation of Nari's expulsion order and reshuffle of the Anthony cabinet to include more ministers from the Karunakaran faction.