THIRUVANATHAPURAM: The long political innings of K Karunakaran earned him not only fame as a shrewd politician, but also an image as Kerala’s most controversial Home Minister. The Rajan case triggered several controversies in the 1970s and the ISRO espionage case came towards the fag end of Karunakaran’s innings in the 1990s. He was forced to resign as Chief Minister in 1977 when the disappearance of Kozhikode Regional Engineering College student Rajan snowballed into a major controversy. The alleged involvement of the then IG Raman Srivastava, a close confident of Karunakaran, in the ISRO case had put the leader in a tight spot while he was the Chief Minister.
But Karunakaran remained a powerful Home Minister as well. He never mixed up politics with policing, but was well updated with what was going on in the department, recalls senior police officials. Even when partymen pressed for action against any police official, Karunakaran acted only after due consideration of all issues. He was aware of the merits and demerits of every policeman. He never allowed his partymen to boss over the police. His expertise in policing was evident in 1982 while he was Chief Minister and Vayalar Ravi the Home Minister. While a communal violence broke out in the state, Karunakaran played a key role in bringing the situation under control. Karunakaran intervened in resolving crisis situations like the one that erupted following the Babri Masjid demolition. He always took police officers into confidence. Certain IPS officers like Jayaram Padikkal, T V Madhusoodanan, Raman Srivastava and M G A Ramen were his close confidants. Karunakaran earned the wrath of a section in the police for giving out-of-turn promotions. There were several instances of junior officers being promoted overlooking seniors. There used to be a group of cops who pretended to be Karunakaran’s coterie while he was the Home Minister. This had invited widespread resentment in the police force. The appointment of Jayaram Padikkal as DGP bypassing T V Madhusoodanan had sparked a controversy. “I am a Congress man and will die as a Congress man. If you do Congress some favour, I will be happy. But you should always remember that you are
a police officer,’’ Karunakaran had once said, recalls a police officer.