M A I N   N E W S

Karunakaran to form Indira Congress

Thiruvananthapuram, January 28
The Congress in Kerala today split with senior leader K. Karunakaran announcing his decision to float a new party — “Indira National Congress” — next month.

The octogenarian leader is breaking away from the Congress for the first time in his long association with the party, which he joined as a freedom fighter.

Claiming a high moral ground, Mr Karunakaran said he was parting ways as he had no other option to save the people of Kerala and the real Congressmen.

Making the announcement at a group convention here, Mr Karunakaran said the new party would have the picture of Indira Gandhi as its symbol.

Defeating the “anti-Karunakaranists” in the Congress would be the main agenda of his party, Mr Karunakaran said amidst thunderous applause from his followers who had come to attend the convention at the Tagore centenary hall here.

He ridiculed reports that he would have agreed to a “ceasefire” with his arch foe Chief Minister A. K. Antony, if his son and KPCC president K. Muraleedharan was offered a cabinet berth.

Two I-group ministers —Kadavur Sivadasan and P. Sankaran — were among those who attended the meet.

Though he did not indicate whether the two ministers belonging to his group would resign, Mr Karunakaran said he had no doubt that the MLAs who were with him would oppose the government if he asked them to do so.

Mr Karunakaran said he was compelled to take this hard decision as he was forced to the wall by “a betrayer.”

He said it was strange that those who did not find any fault with the Congress President Sonia Gandhi taking initiatives to forge ties with the DMK in Tamil Nadu were anguished at his advocating a soft line towards the CPM in Kerala.

“I have been with the Congress for the past 75 years. I have taken the right line when the party suffered splits in 1969 and 1978.”

“In 1969 Indira Gandhi was in power. But what about 1978 when she was not in power,” Mr Karunakaran said. He said he had not even asked for party’s primary membership for his son and daughter.

He said from the beginning he had warned that the UDF government would have to suffer consequences if it failed to live up to the expectations of the people.

Meanwhile, Mr Karunakaran’s son and KPCC president K. Muraleedharan, who did not turn up at his father’s convention, said he would continue in the Congress and abide by the high command’s decision on the Kerala crisis.

“As a disciplined Congressman, I will continue in the party. I will abide by the high command decision, whether it is to my personal liking or not,” he told reporters. — PTI


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