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Kerala elections: Muraleedharan takes up challenge, a win will cement position

The son of the late K Karunakaran, Muraleedharan, 63, has stepped forward at a time when Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and former chief minister Oommen Chandy were seen to have shied away from the challenge.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: March 16, 2021 8:04:00 am
Kerala elections: Muraleedharan takes up challenge, a win will cement positionCongress MP K Muraleedharan.

The political graph of Congress MP K Muraleedharan is set to go up in Kerala politics as well as the party’s state unit as he takes on the challenge of facing the BJP in Nemom.

The son of the late K Karunakaran, Muraleedharan, 63, has stepped forward at a time when Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and former chief minister Oommen Chandy were seen to have shied away from the challenge.

This is not the first time that Muraleedharan has taken up a tough battle on the Congress’s behalf. In the Lok Sabha elections of 2019, Muraleedharan, then a sitting legislator, was deputed to fight CPM strongman P Jayarajan in the Left stronghold of Vatakara, and had won by a margin of 84,000-plus votes.

One of the few Congress leaders to have a base of own, Muraleedharan is also one of the most preferred Congress faces among the Muslim community.

When he entered politics in the late 1980s, Muraleedharan had a head start with father Karunakaran a towering figure in Kerala politics. In 1989, 1991 and 1999, Muraleedharan was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kozhikode.

However, his career floundered after he became the president of the Kerala PCC in 2001. Group rivalry ended in his ouster from the Congress in 2005.

For the next six years, Muraleedharan tried desperately to return to Congress, even as he faced successive setbacks, particularly after Karunakaran’s death in 2010. However, party rivals resisted his return, till early 2011.

Months later, Muraleedharan contested the polls from the Vattiyoorkavu Assembly seat in Thiruvananthapuram and won. In the elections in 2016, he retained the seat for the Congress.

Muraleedharan said he was confident about winning Nemom. “The CPM has been alleging that the BJP won the constituency last time with Congress votes. Hence, this time the Congress is contesting the seat (the last two times its allies did).”

About the party nominating him, Muraleedharan said, “If Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala had left their seats, chances of Congress losing their sitting seats were high. Hence, I decided to take up the challenge.’’

Muraleedharan reiterated the Congress’s assertion that contesting from Nemom against the BJP sends a message that only the Congress can take on communalism. “It will have a positive impact across Kerala.”

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