Pandemonium in council ahead of deputy mayor election

K.A. Ansiya of the CPI was elected Deputy Mayor of the Kochi Corporation on Monday, in a process that turned stormy with United Democratic Front (UDF) councillors claiming that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) councillors arrived late and the District Collector delayed the start of the proceedings.

Chaos ensued with councillors of the two fronts coming close to blows, delaying the voting process by nearly an hour.

The UDF councillors accused the Collector of not adhering to the protocol while conducting the election, and allowing the LDF councillors to enter the council hall even after 2 p.m., the time scheduled for the election. “The councillors who entered the council after 2 p.m. should be barred from participating in the election to the post of Deputy Mayor,” said UDF councillor Antony Kureethara, who submitted a written complaint to the Collector.

“The Collector has been partial to the LDF in allowing their councillors to enter the hall after 2 p.m., the scheduled time at which the proceedings should have begun,” said UDF councillor M.G. Aristottil.

“The UDF and BJP councillors were present in the hall by the scheduled time. The Collector also arrived, but some LDF councillors had not arrived yet. They were allowed to enter and sign the register marking attendance though they arrived late,” said Anthony Painuthara, Congress councillor.

A harried District Collector S. Suhas tried to bring the council to order, insisting that the officer presiding over the election could decide at his discretion when the election should begin. The UDF councillors could seek legal recourse if they saw a problem, he said.

In the first round of voting, Ms. Ansiya secured 36 votes, 32 votes went to UDF candidate Seena Gokulan and five to the BJP candidate Priya Prashant.

The UDF councillors stormed out of the council hall after the first round of voting and did not participate in the second round.

Ms. Ansiya retained the same number of votes in the second round, to take the post of Deputy Mayor. Mayor M. Anilkumar administered the oath of office to her. Ms. Ansiya is a first-time councillor and is representing the Mattancherry division.

If the UDF councillors had any allegation of irregularity, they could contest the irregularity, said Mr. Anilkumar. “Their arguments are flimsy. It is the Collector who decides,” he said.

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