THE RELEVANCE OF K. KARUNAKARAN HERITAGE MUSEUM
An appeal to the Honourable Vice Chancellor of Kerala Agricultural University for establishing a Heritage Museum preserving the legendary Thattil Estate and the Rubber Factory at Kerala Agricultural University.
When K.Karunakaran, the staunch politician died at the age of 92 at Ananthapuri Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on 23 December 2010, a sense of nothingness prevailed all over the State, as never before. An epitome of allegiance he lived a life worthy emulating to the genre next, wading through amazing events that had stamped indelible political and cultural signature.
It is quite impossible to record the history of Kerala politics without a K.Karunakaran, because he was the one and the only ‘Leader’ and a dignified giant in the political kaleidoscope of Kerala, for his friends and foes coming from the embarrassing multiplicity of political parties in the State.
Keralite adored him as the ‘Bheeshmacharya’ of the Congress party and ‘Chanakya’ of the Indian Politics who had played a vital pivotal role, dedicating his blood and life for the architecture of a concrete Congress Party and democracy.
Heralding the fights for rights of the labourers, he created a strong parallel thoroughfare of trade unionism, when the thunderbolts of the spring- send tremors in the social and political arena of the State are vigorously active. And when got into the power he could turn out the thunders into hymns for peace and equality via a crash-landing by making use of the bureaucracy at the ‘best’.
Karunakaran entered the political arena of Trichur with a palette and brush in his hand, but soon jumped into activism when the anti-colonial ferment swept the country. He then grew as a trade unionist in the Thattil Estate at Vellanikkara; now under Kerala Agricultural University and inflamed a sense of self-esteem among the laborers. It was indeed praiseworthy to note that Shri. K. Karunakaran had sold the ornaments of his wife Smt. Kalyanikutty Amma for paying wages to the labourers of the Thattil Estate during the strike.
It was the time when Maoism was sprouting across the nation from the down trodden labyrinths of the State. Though the aim and strategy were the same, both were poles strategically apart. Cold-blooded murders staged along both sides and a lot were locked behind the bars along with Karunakaran. The historic Thattil Estate Murder case which stormed the political Kerala was the event that engineered the invincible leadership within Karunakaran. In this remarkable case known as Thattil Estate John murder case, K. Karunakaran was the ninth accused and Mr. Panicker, State general secretary INTUC and his close associate was the ninth accused.
The first non-communist labour setup was formed at Sitaram Mill Trichur under the unquestionable leadership of Karunakaran, thereafter. His way of handling the mobs and combats often reminded some of the ‘seemingly illogical’ fights illustrated in Indian classics. Some of his friends who still live at Punkunnam, Trichur still remember his use of ‘guerilla model’ attacks against his enemies after switching off the lights.
A great visionary and a stubborn herald of developments, K.Karunakaran is fondly remembered by the people of Kerala. If such a quick-witted leader fighter was not here, Kerala would never have a Nedumbassery Airport with sophisticated amenities. When he put forward the idea of an airport with NRI back up, as for anything new, the intellectuals protested the project calling it a ‘rich man’s luxury’. Now we see the average Keralite, the earning member of many family boards and land here, this ‘luxurious terminal’ in search of their daily bread and sustenance.
Sree Chithira Thirunal Institute of Medical Science, Trivandrum also keeps a beloved record of gratefulness towards K.Karunakaran for his countless guidance, services and support on its developmental gallops to the top of the tops among the Medical institutions in the State.
The word ‘development’ first echoed and realized inside the thick forest of Sabarimala for the first time when Karunakaran started his projects installing a KSRTC depot at Pampa and making some of the forest land as the parking space for the mammoth gatherings of the pilgrims. He had an idea of making out a helipad over there but dropped it owing to the opposition from certain Hindu sectors. The Guruvayur Railway line, Punkunnam over bridge, Kayamkulam Power project, a special identity to Kasargodu as the 14th District etc. stand true testimonials of his love and legendary remembrance.
Though a Kannur-born, Karunakaran grew up as the son of Trichur. The City of Sakthan thamburan once again witnessed how a powerful leader would be like. It was here, he acquired the title ‘Leader’ even before he became a prominent figure in politics.
In 1945 he was elected to Trichur Municipal Council and that was the birth of a political star from the South. Trichur gradually grew with Karunakaran, thenceforth. Mala was a subjugated village in Trichur District until Karunakaran took it as his star domain for contesting in the Assembly elections. Karunakaran was elected to the State Assembly seven times consecutively from Mala. In return, Karunakaran uplifted and face-lifted the Mala Panchayath in all walks of life. He gifted Mala with every modern facility available to stand on its own feet; a KSRTC depot with 24 hr service, Model Poly Technique Institution, Kerala Feeds, Government ITI, Women’s College, Meladur Mill Controls etc are a few of his blessed boons to Mala.
Karunakaran loved Trichur far more than any place, mainly as the abode of his beloved Lord Sree Krishna. After his marriage with his cousin Kalyanikutty Amma, he lived here in the heart of the city, Punkunnam in his small house Murali Mandiram. Murali Mandiram was not only his residence but the party office for his supporters and activists to come and go at any time whether he is in power or not. Kalyanikutty Amma served food for every party worker regardless of their cast or creed, but never credited it to any of her further remembrance. But even years after the demise of that noble woman, the party workers in Trichur fondly remember her motherly affection and care. The mortal remains of Kalyanikutty Amma and Shri. K.Karunakaran was made to immortalize in the yard at Murali Mandiram.
Shri. K.Karunakaran has his renowned title as ‘King-Pin’ but the title was transformed later as the ‘King-Maker’ when he installed Narasimha Rao at the Centre. But paradoxically the same Narasimha Rao had demanded him to quit the Chief Ministers chair, when the protests echoed irresistibly at the centre. But the strange destiny opted the same date i.e. December 23rd for both to leave for heavenly abode.
Considering the historical relevance and political charisma bestowed upon Shri. K. Karunakaran with his cordial involvement in the Thattil Estate and Kerala Agricultural University, it would be a real homage to the leader if a Heritage Museum is constructed in order to perpetuate his legendary memories. The Government of Kerala has already initiated the venture some eight years back. But not realized yet.
The primary action initiated for the construction of the Heritage Museum was taken eight years back by Dr. K.V.Peter, former Honourable Vice Chancellor of Kerala Agricultural University. He had communicated from the office of the Vice Chancellor to the Minister of cultural affairs Shri. A.P. Anilkumar during the year 2005 and demanded an approximate amount of Rs. 10 Lakhs for the execution of the project. In response to the same, the Government of Kerala had informed that the Government was unable to grant funds for the same at that time due the scarcity of funds under the head of accounts allocated for the purpose.
Accordingly Dr. K.V.Peter, former Honourable Vice Chancellor of Kerala Agricultural University had directed the Estate Officer of that period to prepare a detailed proposal for the same and also issued orders to meet the expenditure from the University funds. But nobody had seen taken action in the matter till date.
Now, considering the favourable political and media climate and the serious involvement of Shri. K. Muraleedharan, MLA and son of the Late Leader Shri. K. Karunakaran, Kerala Agricultural University may take appropriate policy decisions in the matter to pursue further with the government for the speedier execution of the project. Doing so, I hope that the Kerala Agricultural University will be benefitted for its future development and also honoured by the people of Kerala for paying homage to the great leader K. Karunakaran, the political legend of Kerala.
Dr. C.T. William