Distant from state, close to Centre
On Sunday, at the Maramon Convention in central Kerala, Asia's biggest Christian convention, Mar Thoma Church head Joseph Mar Thomas described Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Pallath Joseph J Kurien as 'the dear son of the Church'. The Church's darling is also a pride of the Nair Service Society, a powerful organisation of the upper-class Hindu Nair community. NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair, who had termed Shashi Tharoor a Delhi Nair, had warmly welcomed Kurien's sixth time election to the Rajya Sabha.
Going by past practice, Nair would have spit venom on the Congress, alleging that the party is pampering minorities. But his Hindu sentiments ebbs away when Kurien emerges. It was Nair's statement — that Kurien was with him at NSS headquarters — which turned an alibi for the Congress leader to claim he was not involved in the Suryanelli rape case.
Kurien, 72, has managed to stay afloat in the Congress politics with the support of party high command, according to party sources. After unsuccessfully contesting Assembly polls, Kurien made his Lok Sabha debut in 1980 with the support of the A K Antony faction of the party. Since then he has been close to Antony, and in the good books of party's central leadership.
From 1980 onwards, Kurien, who hails from an agrarian family, got elected to the Lok Sabha for sixth consecutive terms from central Kerala, where Christian population is in the reckoning. Since 2005 he has been a member of the RS. In two occasions in the 1990s, he was a Union minister of state.
Like Antony, Kurien is keen to project himself as a supporter of majority community.
Recently, he seconded the NSS stand that there was a pact between the community organisation and the Congress high command on making party's state chief Ramesh Chennithala the deputy chief minister. However, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that there was no such agreement to induct Chennithala into the Cabinet.