LDF to begin power-sharing talks soon

Two Independents to get their due share as their support is crucial for the front

The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) may soon begin discussions for sharing power in the Kochi Corporation, as the State Election Commission has issued guidelines for the process.

The commission has suggested that members of standing committees be elected before January 12. Elections can be held on either January 7, 8, 11, or 12, it was recommended.

The district secretariat of the CPI(M) will soon meet to discuss allocation of chairpersonsโ€™ posts among the front constituents. State committee members of the party, including district secretary C.N. Mohanan and Dinesh Mani, will return to Kochi after the two-day State committee meeting, which will begin on January 2. Formal discussions on power-sharing will begin after the State committee meeting, indicated a senior leader of the party.

The standing committees in the Kochi Corporation include development, welfare, town planning, works, tax appeal, education, finance, and health.

The LDF, which has a strength of 34 members, had wrested power from the United Democratic Front (UDF) with the support of two Independents โ€” T. K. Ashraf and J. Sanilmon. Since the support of the two Independents is crucial for the front to continue in power, both may be offered the posts of chairpersons of standing committees.

The CPI(M) is understood to have offered Mr. Ashraf the post of health standing committee chairperson, which he had held five years ago. Mr. Sanilmon will also have to be accommodated, considering the wafer-thin margin of the front in the 74-member council and the coalition dynamics, said a party leader.

The Janata Dal, an LDF constituent, is also likely to be allotted one standing committee, and Sheeba Lal, the lone representative of the party, will head a committee.

The finance standing committee is headed by Deputy Mayor K.A. Ansiya, a CPI nominee. The party may exert pressure on the LDF for one more post.

With 31 members of the Congress and the support of one Congress rebel, the UDF can legitimately hope to get two standing committees. However, it could be reduced to one through careful division of councillors in the eight standing committees, hinted a ruling front leader.

It is to be seen how the CPI(M) will accommodate its senior councillors in the remaining committees. A few senior leaders of the party had returned to the council this time after taking a break.

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