The ongoing factional feud within the Congress over the control of Thrikkakkara Municipality took a sharp turn on Thursday with KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala demanding resignation of municipal chairman P.I. Mohammadali within 3 days and the latter choosing to defy the diktat.
Despite being in power, Congress was facing extreme hardship in conducting administration of Thrikkakara municipality right from the beginning as the ‘A’ and ‘I’ factions have been slugging it out over the Chairman’s post.
On Thursday, Mr. Chennithala wrote a letter to Mr. Mohammadali asking for his resignation within three days as per a previous agreement to handover chairman’s post to the ‘I’ group. Mr. Mohammadali, who represents ‘A’ group, said he would not pay heed to any such ultimatum as he enjoyed brute majority among Congress councillors.
“I am yet to get the letter. KPCC president has no right to demand my resignation as I enjoy the confidence of the councillors. I am ready to face any disciplinary action but the reported letter from KPCC is devoid of any ethics and morality. I never faced any corruption charge and have been running the municipal administration effectively. Even the opposition failed to point out any lapse on my part,” said an emotional Mr. Mohammadali.
The letter from Mr. Chennithala is 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 has made it amply clear that he is in no mood to step down as he enjoys support of 21 of the 25 Congress councillors. “In a democracy, majority matters. Is it my reward for more than 47 years of blemish-free public life,’’ he asks. But sources close to Mr Chennithala clarified that the KPCC chief was urging Mr. Mohammadali to honour a decision dating back to the start of his term.
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 election. Now the chairman claims he has support has grown to 21 councillors.
According to him, a KPCC circular clearly stated that in cases where party contest to the post of chairman results in a tie or where the contestants were 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, Mr. Mohammadali said.
But ‘I’ group leaders counter this stating that a five-member committee constituted by KPCC of which Mr Poulose was the convener, had decided on a split term between Mr. Mohammadali and Mr. Vazhakkala soon after the local body elections.
“The party decision was anti-democratic as it overran the majority opinion. I will continue in the post in the absence of any agreement for sharing the post with the ‘I’ group candidate,’’ Mr. Mohammadali said.
In the 43-member council, the United Democratic Front has 30 members. Of this, Congress has 25 councillors. While 21 councillors are supposed to be in the ‘A’ camp, the remaining four are known to owe their allegiance to the rival ‘I’ faction.