KERALA

Karunakaran rules out compromise

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM APRIL. 9. The veteran Congress leader, K. Karunakaran, has said that the six-year expulsion order handed to his nominee, Kodoth Govindan Nair, who is contesting as a Congress rebel in the April 14 Rajya Sabha election, will not break the morale of his supporters.

Reacting to Mr. Govindan Nair's suspension from the party, Mr. Karunakaran told The Hindu that the high command's order was not a surprise. It is natural for the party to suspend a rebel candidate and that it was with the full knowledge of this outcome that Mr. Nair was in the fray.

Ruling out the question of a compromise to the issue by withdrawing Mr. Nair from the fray, Mr. Karunakaran said no one could corner his group through threats.

Replying to a question on Mr. Antony's view that Mr. Nair would not win the election, Mr. Karunakaran said it was Mr. Antony's wishful thinking and attempts. "The `I' group is entitled to a seat. Our stand has evoked considerable sympathy. And I would be in the forefront to protect the faction's interest. And I am confident that the `I' group will not disown Mr. Nair,'' he said at a press conference earlier in the day.

Mr. Karunakaran did not hide his rancour at the Congress president, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi's refusal to call him up and talk to him. "There was ample time to do so, but now it is too late. Nothing would take place now as the matter is out of my hands. No one can rule here by handing out threats to the `I' group,'' he added.

Asked whether there was any chances of a compromise, Mr. Karunakaran retorted: "A compromise is possible provided the Congress president takes the initiative by withdrawing one of the official candidates. In any case, none of the `I' group MLAs will change their stand because they have experienced the insult and neglect shown to them all these days.''

Asked whether he was confident of getting the support of the UDF constituents, Mr. Karunakaran said it was left to them to decide the course of action. But if they were to decide unitedly to vote for the high command's nominees, then the only thing I can say is let their beliefs save them. Even those UDF partners who have declared their stand have not named the candidates they would vote for, he added.

With regard to the Chief Minister's appeal to the Congressmen not to fall in the CPI(M)'s trap, Mr. karunakaran said he could comment on this only on the basis of a politician who fought the CPI(M) for decades. It was difficult for him to agree with Mr. Antony because the Congress party, led by Sonia Gandhi, along with the Chief Minister and himself had decided to cooperate with the CPI(M) in the next elections. Now that Mr. Antony had mentioned it, Mr. Nair would win with a thumping majority.