Thrikkakara Municipal Chairman P. Mohammadali has said it would be tough for the Congress to explain the rationale behind forcing a ‘performing chairperson’ to resign to make way for an ‘ill-equipped’ person.
He was interacting with The Hindu a day after he expressed willingness to step down from the post in a telephonic conversation with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Mr. Mohammadali denied reports that the Chief Minister had asked him to resign. “Mr. Chandy is the topmost leader of the ‘A’ group in the party, to which I am associated. He gave a patient hearing to my statement on how the ‘I’ group was adopting undemocratic means to dislodge me. I also enumerated the steps I had taken to improve functioning of the municipality and reasons why a majority of councillors are supporting me. He pacified me and I finally offered to resign to protect unity in the party,” he said.
When asked when he would resign, Mr. Mohammadali said it would depend on the way the party leadership handled the issue. “Councillors who are supporting me must get a satisfactory explanation. The interests of the ‘A’ group must be protected. Let them convene the parliamentary party meeting and give an explanation. We have to ensure our political future as well. Our conditions must be honoured,” he said.
Mr. Mohammadali will soon meet Mr. Chandy in Thiruvananthapuram and consult other ‘A’ group leaders.
His refusal to resign and hand over the baton to an ‘I’ group nominee was troubling the Congress district unit for long. It was only last week that KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala wrote a letter to Mr. Mohammadali demanding his resignation in three days as per a previous agreement to hand over the chairman’s post to the ‘I’ group. Mr. Mohammadali, who represents ‘A’ group, maintained that he would not pay heed to any such ultimatum as he enjoyed a healthy majority among Congress councillors. That necessitated the intervention of Mr. Chandy.
The letter from Mr. Chennithala was in continuation of a previous letter written by District Congress Committee (DCC) president V.J. Paulose asking him to hand over the mantle to fellow councillor Shaji Vazhakkala of the ‘I’ faction for the rest of the term.
Mr. Mohammadali refused to resign saying he enjoyed the support of 21 of the 25 Congress councillors. Mr. Mohammadali claimed that at the parliamentary party meeting of the Thrikkakara municipality held on December 2, 2010, he had defeated Mr. Vazhakkala by 12 to 11 votes and was elected the party’s candidate for the chairman’s post. Now, the chairman claims his support has grown to 21 councillors.
According to him, a KPCC circular clearly stated that in cases where the party contests for the post of chairman and the result is a tie or where the contestants are separated by a single vote, then split term among the two contestants could be considered, provided there is a specific agreement to that effect. No such agreement had been entered into for sharing the chairman’s post at the Thrikkakara municipality, he said. Now, Mr. Mohammadali says he is resigning only to protect unity in the party and express solidarity with Mr. Chandy.