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Kannoth Karunakaran (5 July 1918 – 23 December 2010) was an Indian politician and member of the Indian National Congress party. He served as the Chief Minister of Kerala four times: for a brief period from March 1977 to April 1977, another short term from December 1981 to March 1982, followed by a brief period of president's rule from March 1982 to May 1982, from May 1982 to May 1987, and from June 1992 to May 1995. He was admired by all political parties for his determination and political skills.[dubious ] He was instrumental in several massive infrastructure projects in Kerala which includes the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Kochi) and the Cochin International Airport. These were sanctioned during his last stint as Chief Minister of Kerala from 1992 to 1995. In his honour, a pavilion in the Cochin stadium is named after him.[8]

K. Karunakaran
Karunakaran Kannoth.jpg
5th Chief Minister of Kerala[1]
In office
24 June 1991 – 16 May 1995
Preceded byE K Nayanar
Succeeded byA.K. Antony
In office
24 May 1982 – 25 May 1987
Preceded byPresident's Rule
Succeeded byE K Nayanar
In office
28 December 1981 – 17 March 1982
Preceded byA.K. Antony
Succeeded byPresident's Rule
In office
25 March 1977 – 25 April 1977
Preceded byC. Achutha Menon
Succeeded byA.K. Antony
Minister of Home Affairs Kerala State[2]
In office
25 September 1971 – 25 March 1977
Preceded byC. Achutha Menon
Succeeded byK M Mani
Minister of Industries Government of India[3][4]
In office
Member of Legislative Assembly[5]
In office
ConstituencyMala (7 Terms)
Member of Parliament Lok Sabha[5][6]
In office
In office
Member of Parliament Rajya Sabha[5][6]
In office
In office
In office
Member of Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly[6][7]
In office
1 July 1949 – 23 March 1956
Member of Kochi Legislative Assembly[6][7]
In office
Councillor of Thrissur[7]
In office
Personal details
Born(1918-07-05)5 July 1918
Chirakkal,Kannur, Madras Presidency, British India
Died23 December 2010(2010-12-23) (aged 92)
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Political partyIndian National CongressFlag of the Indian National Congress.svg
Kalyanikutty Amma
(m. 1954; died 1993)
ChildrenK. Muraleedharan
Padmaja Venugopal
ParentsThekkedathu Ravunni Marar
Kannoth Kalyani Marasyar
ResidenceThrissur, Thiruvananthapuram
As of 2 November, 2007
Source: [Government of Kerala]

K. Karunakaran was close to former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.[9] Karunakaran is the founder of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and coalition government system of Kerala.

Early lifeEdit

Kannoth Karunakaran was born on 5 July 1918 in Chirakkal near Kannur as the son of Thekkedathu Ravunni Marar and Kannoth Kalyani Marasyar. He had two elder brothers - Kunjirama Marar and Balakrishna Marar, a younger brother - Damodara Marar (Appunni Marar) and a sister - Devaki (who died when Karunakaran was just five years old). His father was a record keeper in the British Malabar government.

During his childhood, Karunakaran was an expert in swimming, painting, football and volleyball. Though he was named Karunakara Marar, he later dropped his caste title, and came to be known just by his name.

Karunakaran started his school education by joining Vadakara Govt. Lower Primary School in 1923. Later, he studied in Andallur govt. school and the famous Raja's High School near his home in Chirakkal. After passing matriculation from Raja's High School, he went to Thrissur and joined Govt. Fine Arts' college, from where he took degrees in painting and mathematics. For treating an eye disorder, he went to his maternal uncle's home in Vellanikkara near Thrissur, along with his elder brother Kunjirama Marar. Later, he married his maternal uncle's daughter Kalyanikkutty Amma in 1954 at Guruvayoor Temple, when he was 36 and Kalyanikkutty Amma was 30. K. Muraleedharan and Padmaja Venugopal, famous Congress politicians, are their children. It was in 1993, when Karunakaran was the Chief Minister, that Kalyanikkutty Amma died.

Political lifeEdit

In 1937, Karunakaran joined the flood relief camps that were conducted by V. R. Krishnan Ezhuthachan, C. Achutha Menon, R.M. Manakkalath and other leaders of Prajamandalam, an early freedom struggle movement in Cochin State. He became a member of the Indian National Congress and began to wear Khadi. He also participated intensively in the trade union activities in the vast Thattil rubber estates where his uncle Raghavan Nair was a 'writer'. During this time, he would spare his artistic skills and labour in helping the workers' union (later INTUC) for their wall writings and campaigns. Gradually, he was picked up by Panampilly Govinda Menon as his most favourite follower. In due course, Karunakaran rose to a level of the senior-most Leader of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC). The INTUC later became one of the largest trade unions in India having with over 4 million memberships today. He went on to become the Thrissur District Congress Committee President, after which he was elected to the Cochin Legislative Assembly twice before the formation of Kerala State. He contested in the 1957 Kerala Legislative Assembly Elections against a strong trade unionist and an ex. congressmen, DR.A R Menon, when no one in the state Congress party came up front to oppose Mr. Menon. When the results came, Karunakaran lost by less than one thousand votes, and A R Menon was heard saying, "Njan aanu shericku thottatu. (I am the one who really lost)."

Karunakaran was denied a Congress ticket in the 1960 Kerala Legislative Assembly Elections, after which he was allotted a ticket to contest from a strong Communist stronghold, Thrissur's Mala constituency in the 1965 Kerala Legislative Assembly Elections. Karunakaran surprised everyone by defeating the left front candidate by more than 3000 votes, and since represented the constituency in 1967, 1970, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1987, and 1991. He was first elected as the Congress Legislative Party leader in 1967. He took over the State Congress Legislative Party's machinery when Congress was down to only 9 MLAs in the assembly.


Karunakaran died on 23 December 2010, aged 92, at Ananthapuri Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram. He was suffering from respiratory problems, fever and other age related diseases and had been hospitalized on 21 October 2010, never to be left alive again. His condition worsened following a stroke and death occurred following a cardiac arrest. His death was confirmed by doctors at 5:30 PM. It was coincidental that his death and Narasimha Rao's death was on same date (Rao died six years earlier in 2004). Karunakaran had played key role in backing the Rao Government and later Rao had dismissed Karunakaran from the chair of Chief Minister of Kerala.[10][11] His funeral was attended by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh and the AICC chief Sonia Gandhi.


The first biography on him titled 'K.Karunakaran' was written by Vrindavanam Venugopalan. Published by Islamiya Books, Aluva in 1992.


K. Karunakaran was the home minister of Kerala during the emergency period. After the Emergency, the Rajan case rocked Kerala politics like no other issue before and Karunakaran was forced to step down as the case attracted national attention. It was a habeas corpus petition filed by T.V. Eachara Warrier asking the state machinery to produce his son Rajan (a student of Regional Engineering College, Calicut who actively participated in protests against the emergency declared by the Indira government) in court. Rajan was allegedly killed by the police at Kakkayam police torture camp and the body disposed off Mad. The legal battle led by Rajan's father became one of the most remembered human rights fights in the state and diminished Karunakaran's popularity. The book Memories of a father is a lamentation of a father over his son's brutal death. He was an accused in the Palmolein Oil Import Scam, which was pending before the Supreme Court at the time of his death.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "KERALA's FIRST LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY". Information & Public Relations Department. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  3. ^ Babu, Sathish (18 October 2014). "K. KARUNAKARAN". Prominent Indian Personalities. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Former Kerala Chief Minister Karunakaran passes away". The Hindu. The Hindu. 24 December 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Shri K. Karunakaran and Mala". Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d "K. Karunakaran". Information System Section, Kerala Legislative Assembly, Thiruvananthapuram. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  7. ^ a b c "KERALA NIYAMASABHA: K.KARUNAKARAN". Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Karunakaran Pavilion". The Times of India. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  9. ^ Who was K Karunakaran?. Press Trust of India. NDTV. Retrieved 23 December 2010
  10. ^ Karunakaran passes away. The Hindu. Retrieved on 23 December 2010
  11. ^ Joe A Scaria (23 December 2010). "Karunakaran passes away, bringing curtains down on era in Kerala politics". The Economic Times. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
Political offices
Preceded by
C. Achutha Menon
Chief Minister of Kerala
Succeeded by
A. K. Antony
Preceded by
E.K. Nayanar
Chief Minister of Kerala
Succeeded by
E.K. Nayanar
Preceded by
E.K. Nayanar
Chief Minister of Kerala
Succeeded by
A. K. Antony