Socialist leader and former Minister P.R. Kurup joined the Congress in 1973
When the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] district leadership’s erstwhile political foes in the Panur and nearby areas were welcomed into the party fold at a public function at Panur on Tuesday, political circles here could not but remember another such event that the place had witnessed over four decades ago, though the characters were different then.
The public function, inaugurated by CPI(M) State unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan at Panur, was planned as a major event to publicly receive former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) district unit president O.K. Vasu and former BJP district unit secretary A. Ashokan and their supporters in and around Panur into the CPI(M) camp. Mr. Vasu and Mr. Ashokan had been archrivals of the CPI(M) leadership here till recently. Panur and its surrounding areas used to be the epicentre of murderous political violence involving rival CPI(M) and Sangh Parivar activists.BJP embarrassed
While the CPI(M) is in an unenviable position of selling the idea of absorbing the rebel BJP leaders and their supporters who had been working under a parallel organisation named NaMo (Narendra Modi) Vichar Manch, it comes as an embarrassment for the BJP that two of its prominent leaders and their supporters have joined the CPI(M) camp in an area where the Sangh Parivar has a strong support base.
The United Democratic Front here views the ‘merger’ of NaMo Vichar Manch with the CPI(M) as a spectacle that justifies the saying that politics is the art of the possible. This is not, however, the first such political event in Panur. It had witnessed another political merger 41 years ago, political observers say. That was on April 15, 1973, when Socialist leader and former Minister in the E.M.S. Namboodiripad Ministry P.R. Kurup and his supporters in the erstwhile Peringalam constituency (which comprised Panur and nearby areas) joined the Congress. The public function then had been held at Panur High School. Congress leader and then Home Minister K. Karunakaran had inaugurated the function, and welcomed Kurup and his supporters into the Congress, Senior Congress functionaries in the district recall that the merger occurred during politically turbulent times with the Congress-backed C. Achutha Menon Ministry having a wafer-thin margin in the Assembly.Autobiography
Kurup’s autobiography ‘Ente Nadinte Katha, Enteyum’ charts the events that led to the merger, and says that Karunakaran took the initiative to bring him into the Congress as it would ensure the support of one more MLA, K.M. Soopy, a close confidant of Kurup. Mr. Soopy, now district president of the Indian Union Muslim League, had won the election from Peringalam.
A few years after the merger, Kurup and his supporters had left the Congress and joined the Janata Party. P.R. Mandiram at Panur stands testimony to the late leader’s political alignments in those days, Congress functionaries say. The building constructed to commemorate the 60th birthday of Kurup was inaugurated by then Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president A.K. Antony in September 1974. The anniversary function was inaugurated by Karunakaran.
The foundation stone for the building, however, had been laid two years earlier by Socialist leader Arangil Sreedharan when both Sreedharan and Kurup had been in the Socialist Party, the functionaries say.