Statue of veteran Congress leader unveiled in State capital
Memories of Congress veteran and the former Chief Minister of Kerala K. Karunakaran were immortalised with President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee unveiling a life-size statue of the leader on the Kanakakunnu Palace premises here on Friday.
Karunakaran was perhaps the only veteran who was addressed as ‘leader’ affectionately by Congressmen all over the State. The statue, sculpted by Siddhan, remarkably resembles the late leader with his characteristic beaming and genial looks.
The unveiling ceremony also turned out to be the venue for an informal get-together of the former ‘I’ group loyalists of the Congress. N. Peethambara Kurup, MP, was the first to arrive at the venue, at 3.45 p.m. K. Muralidharan, MLA, and his sister and KPCC general secretary Padmaja Venugopal reached the venue to take stock of the arrangements. Cooperation Minister C.N. Balakrishnan, who had served as the Thrissur District Congress Committee (DCC) president and a trusted lieutenant of Karunakaran, joined the dignitaries and exchanged pleasantries.
The motorcade of the President reached the venue at 4.20 p.m., accompanied by an array of dignitaries including Governor Sushil Kumar, Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi, K.C.Venugopal, Shashi Tharoor and Kodikunnil Suresh, and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Minister for Health V.S. Sivakumar and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala.
In his address, the President said there was no short cut to success in politics other than sacrifice for the people and total dedication to the service of the nation.
Mr. Mukherjee remembered Karunakaran for his rare combination of being an astute politician and excellent administrator and traced his contributions to the nation and Kerala.
The President said from among the existing Congress leaders other than from Kerala, he had the longest acquaintance with Karunakaran that spread over four decades. He had shared a place with Karunakaran in the Congress Working Committee under Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao and Sonia Gandhi. Karunakaran had a long and colourful legislative life that began as a member of the Kochi Legislative Assembly in 1948 and ended in 2004. “Other than Jyoti Basu, I don’t think there has been anyone else who has had such a long and distinguished career. The transition of the country from colonial rule to a modern democratic state took place under his very eyes. He was Chief Minister for four terms, besides being the Leader of the Opposition. He had been a part of the distinguished legislative body making his presence felt by participation,” Mr Mukherjee said.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, in his speech, promised to consider favourably the demand put forward by the KPCC president in his presidential address for naming the Kochi International Airport at Nedumbassery after Karunakaran. The government would also allot suitable land for the proposed Karunakaran Centre.