‘Former PM ordered my father to resign’

Son of former Kerala CM Karunakaran says factional feud was responsible for father’s removal

Thiruvananthapuram: Late Congress leader K. Karunakaran’s son K. Muraleedharan on Sunday claimed that then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao “ditched” his father and then Kerala chief minister after the 1994 ISRO espionage case.

“As far as I know, and what was told by him [Karunakaran], he was crestfallen by the way Rao [then Congress President] behaved in 1995. It was Rao who ditched him. [Congress leader] G.K. Moopanar called me on March 15, 1995, to tell my father to resign as chief minister as per Rao’s directive, which he did the next day,” Muraleedharan, a Congress legislator, told the media here.

“He [Karunakaran] told me that Rao was responsible [for his removal]. No one from Kerala had ever asked for Karunakaran’s removal. What happened in the Congress then was nothing but the usual factional feud,” the Congress leader said.

Muraleedharan also said that had someone from the Nehru-Gandhi family been at the helm either in the government or the party in 1995, Karunakaran would not have suffered the “humiliation”. Karunakaran passed away in December 2010.

The Congress leader said that he will appear, if asked to, before a three-member committee set up by the Supreme Court to probe the role of three police officers in the espionage case and tell them what he had said on Sunday.

Reacting to his sister Padmaja Venugopal’s assertion that the Indian Space Research Organisation espionage case was the creation of five Congress leaders which led to Karunakaran’s resignation on March 16, 1995, Muraleedharan said that he did not know on what basis she had made the statement.

Her statement came after the Supreme Court on September 14 directed the Kerala government to award Rs5 million compensation to ISRO scientist S. Nambi Narayanan for his unnecessary arrest and harassment and mental cruelty he underwent due to false implication in the espionage case.

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