Interview of the week
?No leadership quality in Sonia? K. Karunakaran,
By S. Chandrasekhar
K. Karunakaran, one of the stalwarts of the Congress Party started his public life in the 1930s, selling salt made by the satyagrahis. A close aide of Indira Gandhi, he stood with her during the days when she was out of power. A kingmaker, he is believed to have made Rao, prime minister. Now in a twist of fate, he is out of the Sonia-led Congress and is out to defeat it by allying with the CPM. He spoke to Organiser correspondent S. Chandrasekhar on the political situation excerpts:
You have been associated with the Congress from the times of Jawaharlal Nehru to Sonia Gandhi. What is the reason for quitting the Congress and forming another party?
The Indian National Congress has always been working towards certain ideals aimed at achieving programmes for development. Moreover, the main aim of the Congress is democracy. Village voters and membership from primary level are the backbone of the Congress. In the new setup at AICC, panel decided by them is elected. They don'twant elections. If elections were held, I would have been in the Congress. I feel deep anguish for leaving the party which I have served in my entire lifetime.
Did you have to quit because of differences with Sonia?
I have had the best of relations with the Nehru family. I respected Sonia as member of the Nehru family. I didn'texpect anything personally from her. But she did not reciprocate my respect. I infer that sanctity of leadership is not there in Sonia.
Congress at the mercy of CPM
Do you feel that Congress under Sonia is being Christianised? Do Oommen Chandy, Y.S.R. Reddy, Ajit Jogi, Oscar Fernandez, Margaret Alva rule the roost?
The Congress was founded by a Christian, so there is nothing wrong (sarcastic smile).
What about the Congress organisation under Sonia?
The workers are the strength of the Congress. Now the party is for leaders and the workers are not getting justice. Moreover, there is widespread opinion that the organisation has totally deteriorated.
You are often regarded as a kingmaker who made Narasimha Rao the prime minister.
I suggested Narasimha Rao'sname despite his deficiencies since he knows the politics of Congress and worked in it. Similarly, in the case of Sonia, I forced her. I knew her deficiencies, but she belonged to the Nehru family.
The leadership of the Congress is responsible for the state of affairs. Manmohan Singh is a victim of circumstances. CPM will certainly use the situation to their benefit.
You talk about Congress commitment to democracy? What about the repressive rule during Emergency?
Emergency was inevitable, there was too much of indiscipline including among the defence forces. But the implementation of it went totally wrong, mainly due to police excesses. I was personally affected in the Rajan case and had to quit my chief ministership. The police officers did not tell me of Rajan'sdeath. I take pride in curbing naxalism in Kerala, but I had to suffer.
The CPM has opposed you, all through your political career, moreover they care a twopence for democracy. How do you justify your party allying with the CPM in Kerala?
The CPM has been opposed to me ever since I joined the Congress. The CPM always wants an upper hand in Kerala. For Kerala'sfuture democracy is important. Hence the CPM has to change from its authoritarian style to a democratic system. It will take time. My alliance with the CPM is a practical move to defeat the Oommen Chandy led UDF.
Don'tyou feel that the CPM clout at Delhi is increasing?
I am worried at the state of the nation because of the influence regional parties have at the national level. I am worried whether the nation will remain one. The leadership of the Congress is responsible for the state of affairs. Manmohan Singh is a victim of circumstances. CPM will certainly use the situation to their benefit. Congress is at the mercy of CPM. There is no alternative to the undue influence of the CPM.
Comprising about 46 per cent of the population the Christians and Muslims are wielding undue political, social and economic power. Almost all educational institutions are controlled by them. About 80 per cent of land holdings are controlled by them. Now SNDP and NSS (community organisations of Hindu Nairs and Ezhavas) have started a unity effort. Instead of allying with the CPM, would it not be appropriate for you to lead a grand Hindu front, with the NSS, SNDP and BJP? Moreover with the Oommen Chandy-led UDF and CPM, both anti-Hindu, what is the hope for Kerala Hindus who are becoming political orphans?
The Muslims and Christians are able to gain because they are politically united. Moreover elections are one year away. This year is very crucial. Let us see.