The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia dials for truce

Thiruvananthapuram, April 20: After blowing hot against the rebels in Kerala, the Congress high command has decided to talk things out and resolve the issue permanently.

The stage for reconciliation was set last evening when party president Sonia Gandhi rang up rebel leader K. Karunakaran.

Sonia’s call appeared to have had a dramatic effect on the veteran leader, who had castigated the high command and rival chief minister A.K. Antony during the recent Rajya Sabha polls and after. Karunakaran described the conversation with Sonia as “friendly talk” and said she understood the “ground realities” in Kerala.

His son, K. Muraleedharan, the state Congress chief, left for Delhi this afternoon to meet Sonia.

Muraleedharan was accused of covertly working for his father’s rebel Rajya Sabha candidate while publicly supporting the official nominees.

“It is hoped that all issues arising out of the Rajya Sabha elections will be sorted out during the meeting between K. Karunakaran and Sonia Gandhi,” Muraleedharan said before leaving for Delhi.

Karunakaran will follow his son to Delhi on Monday.

Many in the state Congress believe the ground has now been set for the rebels’ reconciliation with the high command.

The modalities for the compromise, however, are yet to be known.

Indications show state tourism and fisheries minister K.V. Thomas, who switched loyalties from Karunakaran to Antony during the polls, would be the fall-guy in the compromise. “Thomas is bound to lose his job sooner than later,” a Karunakaran loyalist said.

The high command’s urge to take disciplinary action against Karunakaran and his son appears to have toned down their aggression after they analysed the power balance in the state Congress.

According to Ghulam Nabi Azad and R.K. Dhawan, the two party central observers for the Rajya Sabha polls, Karunakaran still holds sway over large sections of the party.

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