Thiruvananthapuram: A steady stream of mourners led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday paid homage to veteran Congress leader K Karunakaran at his residence here where his mortal remains are kept.
The UPA Chairperson, accompanied by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, placed a wreath and paid her respects to
Karunakaran, who passed away at a private hospital on Thursday after a prolonged illness. Gandhi spoke to Karunakaran's politician son Muraleedharan and daughter Padmaja Venugopal and conveyed her condolences.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to attend the funeral, Congress sources said.Union Ministers A K Antony, Vayalar Ravi, and other senior Congress leaders from the state paid their respects to the departed leader.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to arrive in Thrissur Saturday where the veteran leader is to be cremated.
Sonia, who reached the capital along with Chidambaram in a special flight at 10 am, was welcomed by union ministers Vayalar Ravi, Mullapally Ramachandran and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala at the airport.
At 8.15 a.m. Friday, his body was moved to the party headquarters where a huge crowd was waiting to have a last glimpse of the veteran. Karunakaran's body will be taken to the Durbar Hall in the State Secretariat.
By noon, his journey began to his hometown Thrissur where he will be cremated Saturday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to attend the last rites.
Party officials said all efforts are being made to see that the funeral procession makes brief stops at major towns like Kollam, Alappuzha and Ernakulam for people to pay their respects.
As a mark of respect to the departed leader, the state government has declared a public holiday Friday and all university and state public service examinations and interviews has been postponed.
Karunakaran's condition deteriorated last week and he was put on the ventilator. His condition improved in a few days but he suffered a stroke Wednesday. He died at 5.30 p.m. Thursday. He is survived by his politician son K. Muraleedharan and daughter Padmaja Venugopal.
Karunakaran's death has cast a shadow of sorrow on Kerala, almost eclipsing the Christmas spirit and joy.