Karunakaran may return to the Congress

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New Delhi, Oct 25: In a clear indication that he is willing to return to the Congress Party, former Kerala Chief Minister K Karunakaran today said he had no qualms to acknowledge the leadership of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

However, his son K Muralidharan, a former Kerala Minister, former KPCC President and four-time MP, clarified that Mr Karunakaran only wanted all the Congress leaders who left the party at different times, to come under one banner. "We will not have even an understanding with the Congress, leave alone our return to the party," he said.

Mr Karunakaran joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) a year ago after merging his Democratic Indira Congress (DIC) with it. He floated the DIC in May 2004 after he left the Congress Party along with his son K Muralidharan.

Mr Karunakaran, who is here to attend the Working Committee meeting of the NCP, said he had already talked to some top leaders of the Congress Party. But he did not clarify if it was about his probable return to the Congress Party.

However, Mr Karunakaran's statement acknowledging the leadership of Ms Gandhi is being seen as a clear indication that he was eager to return to the party which he served for nearly six decades and was its Chief Minister three times in Kerala.

The state Congress leadership had said earlier that the party would be glad to welcome Mr Karunakaran to its fold if he openly acknowledged the leadership of Ms Gandhi.

Mr Karunakaran showered praised on Ms Gandhi, whom he once described as an "immature" politician, saying that she had been effectively and efficiently leading the party.

He recalled his days in the Congress since the time of the freedom struggle, and said all the Congressmen should join together.

Saying that the Congress Party seemed to be weak now, he offered to contribute his mite to provide strength to the party.

To a question, he said there would not be any problem for the NCP for his return to the Congress.

Within five minutes after Mr Karunakaran completed his press conference at the Kerala House, Mr Muralidharan, who was also staying there, invited mediapersons to his room and asked, "How my father could forget the kind of insult he had to suffer in the Congress Party." What he had said was that all the Congressmen who left the party at different points of time should rally under one banner. "This statement is wrongly interpreted as his being interested in returning to the Congress Party," Mr Muralidharan said.

UNI

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