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Karat kaleidoscope: Following his footsteps from Kerala

Mar 30, 2008 03:08 PM IST Politics Politics
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Elapully (Kerala): Dusty roads dotted with picturesque palm trees lead to the ancestral home of one of Kerala's most famous sons – Prakash Karat. Ellapully in Pallakkad district, otherwise nondescript, holds a double distinction. It’s part of Chief Minister VS Achthanandan's constituency and it also holds the key to some little known facts about the man whose writ arguably rules Raisina Hill. Omana Karat, valieamma to the CPI-M General Secretary, is one of his last tenuous personal links with the state. She has a faint recollection of her young nephew, who was born in Mynmar, and later moved to Chennai with his mother after his father’s death. “My sister had to face a lot of hardships while bringing up Prakash all by herself. He was her only child. Prakash's sister died very young,” Omana said. None from the Karat family, once rich powerful landlords, was into politics she says. Her nephew she believes only took to Marxism while studying abroad. “She (Karat’s mother) in fact told me when Prakash was young he was quite religious and visited temples a lot,” Omana Prakash's first brush with Kerala politics was when his idol veteran CPM leader AK Gopalan was fighting parliamentary polls from here. “All Nair families were traditional Congress supporters. AKG had entrusted young Prakash with the job of convincing them not to vote for the Congress,” President of Paddico Ltd and party worker, C Satheeshan said. That was in the 70's. Now most families there have given the thumbs up to the red flag, even so it hasn’t meant any personal gain for this family. Karat’s house may bear the name of the second-most powerful man in the country but in Elapully it’s a house like any other family. The rules are clear, no favours are asked for and none given. Nepotism is not something Karat has encouraged. “He is a Karat after all and we are very proud of him,” a beaming Omana said. So, does she foresee her nephew becoming the Prime Minister someday? She laughs as her six-month-old grandson reaches for a news magazine. His uncle has just been voted the most powerful politician in the country. (With inputs from Rajan Saxena)