HE MIGHT have refused to take up the challenge, but there was a reason 72-year-old K Sudhakaran was considered by the Congress as its candidate against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan from Dharmadam in Kannur. The Congress state working president and sitting MP from Kannur, Sudhakaran remains the only party leader in the region who can rally workers to take on the might of the CPM there.
Once a confidant of the late Congress leader K Karunakaran, Sudhakaran rose to prominence in the party in Kannur in the second half of 1990 at a time the district was in the grip of its worst political violence. The acerbic leader had then stood shoulder to shoulder with CPM renegade M V Raghavan, as he had floated the rebel outfit CMP and taken on his parent party.
There were a series of tit-for-tat political attacks till 2000. In 1995, Sudhakaran was also said to be involved in a murder attempt on CPM leader E P Jayarajan. As a nominee of Karunakaran, Sudhakaran served as a minister in the Antony government of 2001-2004.
Sudhakaran’s reputation also held the party in good stead in Kannur by ensuring that its leaders did not desert in the face of CPM violence. When A P Abdullakutty left the CPM in 2009, it was Sudhakaran who initiated him into the Congress, and he remained a Sudhakaran protege. Abdullakutty is now a BJP national vice-president.
Given Sudhakaran’s contribution, his name crops up whenever there is talk of a rejig in the Congress state unit.
His refusal of the party ticket adds to the Congress’s embarrassment over inability to find a strong enough candidate against Vijayan. The CM, who is seeking a return to power on his own merit, meanwhile, is well into campaigning mode.
On his refusal to contest from Dharmadam, Sudhakaran said the party workers are of the opinion that my contesting the seat would affect the prospects of the party in other constituencies in the district.