K. Karunakaran

Kannoth Karunakaran (5 July 1918 – 23 December 2010) was an Indian politician and member of the Indian National Congress (INC). 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, after which president's rule was invoked in the state, and subsequently served from May 1982 to May 1987, and eventually from June 1991 to May 1995. He is the founder of the United Democratic Front (UDF), which is a political alliance in Kerala led by INC.[7]

K. Karunakaran
Karunakaran Kannoth.jpg
Minister of Industry[1][2]
In office
11 June 1995 – 16 May 1996
Prime MinisterP. V. Narasimha Rao
Preceded byAjit Singh
Succeeded bySuresh Prabhu
5th Chief Minister of Kerala
In office
24 June 1991 – 16 March 1995
GovernorB. Rachaiah
Preceded byE. K. Nayanar
Succeeded byA. K. Antony
In office
24 May 1982 – 25 March 1987
Preceded byPresident's rule
Succeeded byE. K. Nayanar
In office
28 December 1981 – 17 March 1982
GovernorJothi Venkatachalam
Preceded byPresident's rule
Succeeded byPresident's rule
In office
25 March 1977 – 25 April 1977
GovernorN. N. Wanchoo
Preceded byC. Achutha Menon
Succeeded byA. K. Antony
Minister of Home Affairs, Government of Kerala[3]
In office
25 September 1971 – 25 March 1977
Chief MinisterC. Achutha Menon
Preceded byC. Achutha Menon
Succeeded byK. M. Mani
Member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly[4]
In office
1967 (1967) – 1996 (1996)
ConstituencyMala (7 Terms)
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha[4][5]
In office
1998 (1998) – 1999 (1999)
In office
1999 (1999) – 2004 (2004)
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha[4][5]
In office
1995 (1995) – 1997 (1997)
In office
1997 (1997) – 1998 (1998)
In office
2004 (2004) – 2005 (2005)
Member of the Travancore–Cochin Legislative Assembly[5][6]
In office
1 July 1949 – 23 March 1956
Member of the Kochi Legislative Assembly[5][6]
In office
1948 (1948) – 1949 (1949)
Councillor of Thrissur[6]
In office
1945 (1945) – 1948 (1948)
Personal details
Born(1918-07-05)5 July 1918
Chirakkal, Madras Presidency, British India
(present day Kannur, Kerala, India)
Died23 December 2010(2010-12-23) (aged 92)
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Political partyIndian National Congress
Kalyanikutty Amma
(m. 1954; died 1993)
ChildrenK. Muraleedharan
Padmaja Venugopal
  • Thekkedathu Ravunni Marar
  • Kannoth Kalyani Amma
As of 2 November, 2007
Source: Government of Kerala

He was instrumental in several massive infrastructure projects in Kerala which includes the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi,[8] and the Cochin International Airport, both of which were sanctioned during his last stint as Chief Minister.[9]

K. Karunakaran was close to former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.[7]

Early lifeEdit

Karunakaran was born on 5 July 1918 in Chirakkal near Kannur in a Hindu Maarar family of Thekkedathu Ravunni Marar and Kannoth Kalyani Amma. 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 five years old. His father was a record keeper in the erstwhile Malabar District.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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'.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

After a career of both achievements and setbacks in his 30s and most of his 40s, K. Karunakaran was allotted a ticket to contest from a Communist stronghold, Thrissur's Mala constituency, considered a "safe seat" for the Left, in the 1965 Kerala Legislative Assembly Elections. To the astonishment of most political observers, 47-year-old K. Karunakaran defeated the Communist candidate by more than 3000 votes, and went on to represent the constituency in seven successive elections: 1967, 1970, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1987, and 1991.

— Shashi Tharoor, in an article published on Mathrubhumi online[10]

The VIP pavilion in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor, Kochi is named after him in his honour.[9]


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 since 21 October 2010. His condition worsened following a stroke and died following a cardiac arrest, as declared by doctors at 5:30 PM. It was coincidental that his death and Narasimha Rao's death was on same date, Rao had 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.[11][12] 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.[citation needed]


K. Karunakaran was the home minister of Kerala during the emergency period[citation needed]. After the Emergency, the Rajan case rocked Kerala politics and Karunakaran was forced to step down as the case attracted national attention. A habeas corpus petition was 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. 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.[citation needed]

Karunakaran was an accused in the Palmolein Oil Import Scam, which was pending before the Supreme Court at the time of his death. Allegations of mass land acquisition in violation of Benami just before the construction of Cochin International Airport had also been levelled at him.

He was forced to resign due to the alleged involvement in ISRO Espionage Scandal.[13][14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Babu, Sathish (18 October 2014). "K. KARUNAKARAN". Prominent Indian Personalities. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Former Kerala Chief Minister Karunakaran passes away". The Hindu. 24 December 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  3. ^ "KERALA's FIRST LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY". Information & Public Relations Department. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Shri K. Karunakaran and Mala". mala.co.in. Mala.co.in. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d "K. Karunakaran". niyamasabha.org. Information System Section, Kerala Legislative Assembly, Thiruvananthapuram. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "KERALA NIYAMASABHA: K.KARUNAKARAN". stateofkerala.in. stateofkerala.in. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  7. ^ a b Who was K Karunakaran?. Press Trust of India. NDTV. Retrieved 23 December 2010
  8. ^ "VIP Football Pavilion at Kaloor Stadium Named after K Karunakaran". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Karunakaran Pavilion". The Times of India. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  10. ^ https://english.mathrubhumi.com/mobile/features/specials/one-and-only-leader--1.5302631
  11. ^ Karunakaran passes away. The Hindu. Retrieved on 23 December 2010
  12. ^ Joe A Scaria (23 December 2010). "Karunakaran passes away, bringing curtains down on era in Kerala politics". The Economic Times. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  13. ^ "How the ISRO espionage scandal brought a CM down". Newslaundry. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  14. ^ "Only my father Karunakaran didn't get justice in ISRO spy case: K Muraleedharan on Nambi Narayanan". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
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