KERALA

Antony stars in Karunakaran's birthday feast

SHARING A SMILE: National Congress (Indira) leader K. Karunakaran, the former Chief Minister A.K. Antony, K. Muraleedharan and Padmaja Venugopal during the birthday celebrations of the veteran leader at his residence in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday . - Photo: S. Mahinsha

SHARING A SMILE: National Congress (Indira) leader K. Karunakaran, the former Chief Minister A.K. Antony, K. Muraleedharan and Padmaja Venugopal during the birthday celebrations of the veteran leader at his residence in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday . - Photo: S. Mahinsha  

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Congress Working Committee member A. K. Antony, the former Minister G. Karthikeyan and MLA T. N. Pratapan were the stars in National Congress (I) leader K. Karunakaran's birthday feast. The CMP leaders M. V. Raghavan, C. P. John, the JSS leader K. R. Gouri and three of her MLAs, IUML MLAs K. N. A. Khader and Kalathil Abdullah provided the supporting cast. The Kerala Congress (Jacob) leader T. M. Jacob and the Kerala Congress (B) leaders R. Balakrishna Pillai and K. B. Ganesh Kumar were present.

Setting aside acidic political differences, Mr. Antony's attempt was to seek areas of affinity. The meeting between the two stalwarts of Kerala politics had all the political ingredients and enough scope for speculation. The cameras kept whirring and the arc lights were on throughout, except for a short spell when Mr. Antony and Mr. Karunakaran closetted themselves in the air-conditioned room where the latter usually receives his important visitors.

Anyone who knows Mr. Antony's nature would not be surprised at his presence at Mr. Karunakaran's residence. Being a politician who demarcates politics and personal relations, he had made a similar appearance at Mr. Karunakaran's iftar party in November two years ago. At the time, the "Leader" had given the call for his famous "November 19 rally" to announce the first crack in the Congress.

Mr. Antony is wont to play down his presence at the birthday party. But there are political leaders who read a lot in this, given the current queasy political situation in the State. Mr. Antony has been one of the few Congress leaders who were opposed to sending out Mr. Karunakaran.

He had tried his level best to bring about some kind of rapprochement. After the split, he counts as the handful of leadership who still believes that Mr. Karunakaran should not be pushed into an alliance with the LDF through a spate of vindictive actions and the doors should not be shut on him.

None of the other leaders such as Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his Cabinet colleagues or KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala turned up.

Mr. Chennithala, however, had wished Mr. Karunakaran on Sunday to mark his birthday according to the Malayalam star. Left leaders were prominent guests at the iftar parties thrown by Mr. Karunakaran and son K. Muraleedharan two years ago. CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Mr. Muraleedharan had made headlines as the two hobnobbed gleefully. This time, the CPI (M) leaders did not turn up. Officially, it was explained that the Left leaders did not turn up in view of the general strike and the disruption of vehicular traffic.

The nine MLAs who submitted their resignations in the morning also came under media glare.

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