Former Kerala CM K Karunakaran’s daughter is now on a political comeback trail.

Thrissur has always been a Karunakaran stronghold says UDF candidate Padmaja Venugopal to TNM
news Kerala Polls 2016 Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 18:01

It’s early morning on Thursday and a host of party workers have already gathered outside ‘Murali Mandiram’ in Thrissur to meet Padmaja Venugopal -their ‘leader’s’ daughter and the UDF candidate from Thrissur constituency in the upcoming assembly polls due to be held on May 16.

‘Murali Mandiram’ at Punkunnam in Thrissur district is where Padmaja and her brother K Muraleedharan -who is the UDF candidate from the Vattiyurkavu constituency in Thiruvananthapuram- grew up.

Party supporters -some teary-eyed- gather around Padmaja the moment she steps out remembering the glorious days of former state CM the late K Karunakaran -fondly referred to as the ‘leader’.

Padmaja is now all set to contest from her home-town after a gap of 12 years. When asked what took her so long to contest again after her defeat in the 2004 assembly elections, she says: “The party had asked me to contest in 2011 too, but I refused as I felt the time was not right then. I wanted to contest only at such a time when I personally felt I had done enough for the party.”

 

How does she define herself, apart from bearing the tag of the ‘leader’s’ daughter? Is she contesting as a UDF woman candidate or as Karunakaran’s daughter?

“Being Karunakaran’s daughter has definitely given me valuable insights into politics. As the KPCC general secretary, I was completely involved in working tirelessly for the party which in turn gave me the confidence to stand for elections this time around. The party therefore decided to field me based on all the work I have done till date,” she replies.

She does however admit to having received preference over others by virtue of her gender. UDF has incidentally only seven woman candidates in the electoral fray in the upcoming state polls.

The Thrissur constituency has been a UDF domain for more than two decades, with Therambil Ramakrishnan winning each time.

 

Is there then a possibility for split votes, as voters across the spectrum have always voted for Therambil irrespective of their political affiliations?

“No way can that happen, as Therambil himself has been very supportive of my candidature. This is purely baseless speculation by the media. The Thrissur constituency has always been a stronghold for K Karunakaran’s family. The people of Thrissur continue to respect my father and with their support, I am confident of a win. Natives of Thrissur consider it a shame when the opposition tries to make it look as if Thrissur has not supported us in the past. That’s a blatant lie as Thrissur and Ollur constituencies have always been the stronghold of the Congress. Thrissur is to me what Mala is to my father. My brother and I grew up in this very same house. That’s exactly why when the party asked me to contest this time, I insisted on doing it from here,” she elaborates.

 

It is common knowledge that K Karunakaran had got elected to the Kerala Legislative Assembly from Mala for a record seven consecutive times.

Padmaja seems least worried about what her opponents are up to. “I don’t underestimate my opponents, yet am not unduly worried about what all they resort to in order to woo the voters. I just concentrate on reaching out to the maximum number of people in my constituency so as to change the perception they have been given of me,” she clarifies.

Asked to respond to the possibility of the BJP opening its account in Kerala for the first time, she had this to say: “To my understanding, the only account they could possibly open is a bank account. It is true that they did win a couple of seats in the local body polls. But then, that would not by default translate into winning votes in the case of assembly elections, as people always vote for the candidate in local body polls and for the party when it comes to the assembly.”

She did however politely refuse to comment on why the UDF government chose to play safe on the Sabarimala issue: “I cannot comment on any government decisions until after the elections.”

 

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