Veteran Congress leader and a four-time Kerala chief minister K Karunakaran, who rose from humble origins to straddle the state politics for over five decades, died on Thursday after prolonged illness. 93-year-old Kannoth Karunakaran, who also served as c in the nineties, was in hospital since December 10 and breathed his last around 5.30 pm after his condition turned critical on Wednesday following a stroke. He is survived by his politician-son Muraleedharan and daughter Padmaja Venugopal.
The cremation will be held in Thrissur on Saturday, KPCC President Ramesh Chennitala said. Karunakaran, who was an ardent loyalist of Indira Gandhi and whose faction in the state Congress was called ‘I’ Congress, was admitted to hospital with severe breathing problem and fever and was on ventilator support off and on. Initiated into politics in 1935 at the age of 19, he participated in the freedom struggle, and later took to trade unionism to make a mark in the state politics remaining one of its poles. A master practitioner of coalition politics, ‘Leader’ Karunakaran often courted controversies and had to resign as chief minister in his first term within a month in 1977 after the controversial death of Left-leaning engineering student Rajan, who was tortured during the Emergency when he was the home minister.