Did the former Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, have a role in the ‘ISRO espionage’ case that forced K. Karunakaran to step down as the Kerala Chief Minister in March 1995?

This political conspiracy theory was much discussed since Karunakaran resigned to make way for A.K. Antony as Chief Minister.

Karunakaran’s son and Congress leader K. Muraleedharan on Sunday asserted that “if it is true that there was a political conspiracy, Narasimha Rao surely had a role in it.”

Mr. Muraleedharan, a former Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president and now a Congress MLA, said this at a function organised here by a social organisation to tender a ‘public apology’ to the former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist, Nambi Narayanan, who was among the six persons wrongly implicated in the so-called espionage case.

Mr. Narayanan found himself in news last week when the media reported that last year the Kerala government had absolved the three police officers, who had come up with the espionage theory, of the charge of “unprofessional conduct.”

Addressing the function, Mr. Muraleedharan said his father had told him that “Narasimha Rao is not a person who can be trusted.”

“I remember, in September 1994, six of us Congress MPs from Kerala had gone to meet Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to apprise him of what was happening in Kerala. P.C. Chacko [now an MP] and Ramesh Chennithala [present KPCC chief] were in the team. It was Chacko who explained the whole thing to the Prime Minister,” Mr. Muraleedharan said.

He recalled the bitter factionalism that was present in the Congress those days, with the anti-Karunakaran group campaigning vigorously for a “change in Karunakaran’s style of functioning.” At that point in time, the ‘ISRO espionage case’ hit the headlines, he said.

“We, the available Karunakaran group MPs, explained everything to him. At the end of 30 minutes Narasimha Rao told us he did not understand what we were saying,” Mr. Muraleedharan said.

A week later, Congress leader G.K. Mooppanar took Mr. Muraleedharan aside and said he could not convey to Mr. Karunakaran that the high command had asked for his resignation. “My father was in the freedom movement. You can imagine what it had been to resign dubbed a traitor,” said Mr. Muraleedharan.

The Congress MP said he did not want to disclose any more names.

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