The first meeting of the new council of Madurai Corporation lasted barely for 10 minutes. It got over much earlier than the expectations of the councillors that just over 50 councillors could make themselves present inside the hall.

Unaware that the Mayor, V.V. Rajan Chellappa, and the officials had left the podium after the meeting got over, some councillors were seen scurrying towards the council hall after alighting from their vehicles on the Mayor's bridge.

Scheduled at 5 p.m. on Friday, the emergency meeting began with a delay of nearly 2 minutes ended at 5.10 p.m.

The meeting was convened with a single-point agenda to decide on the number of members in each of the six standing committees of the council.

Among the first to enter the council hall was the fourth-time councillor, M. Chellam, the lone member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Many women councillors, belonging to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, chose to sit together on the seats located to the right side of the Mayor's chair. These seats were hitherto used by the officials. With the number of councillors increased to 100 from 72, the officials have been shifted to the adjacent enclosure. As the first bell rang in the hall, the Commissioner, S. Natarajan entered the hall. A very few members were seen in the hall. AIADMK councillors started to occupy the seats one by one.

A large number of family members of the new councillors had gathered in the visitors' gallery to have a glimpse of their dear ones sitting in the council hall. Even some children were seen in the gallery.

As the final bell rang, the Mayor's duffedar entered the hall, with the silver sceptre in his hands, announcing the arrival of the new Mayor. Along with Mr. Rajan Chellappa, Deputy Mayor, R. Gopalakrishnan, entered the hall.

A few seconds later, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam members entered the hall en masse. They chose to sit in the seats on the left side of the Mayor.

These were the seats, the DMK zonal chairpersons, and other party councillors had occupied in the previous council.

Caught unawares of the sudden occupation of the seats by the DMK councillors, one of the new councillors of the AIADMK hurriedly sprang up the seat (in the second row) and joined his party colleagues on the other side.

The Mayor began the meeting by reading out a couplet from the Tirukkural and its meaning. The Deputy Mayor administered the oath of eradication of untouchability.

Later, he read out the agenda seeking the consent of the council to decide on the number of members in the six standing committees on Accounts, Education, Health, Taxation and Finance, Town Planning and Appointment.

The State Election Commission, in a communication dated November 11, had said that the number of members could be in the range of six to 15.

After reading out the agenda, the Mayor announced that it was decided that the numbers were fixed at 15 and asked those supporting to say “Ayes”.

As the “Ayes” was heard from the majority, he declared that the resolution was adopted and announced that the meeting ended. Except for the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor, no one spoke in the first meeting except for those uttering “Ayes”.

The meeting ended much before all the councillors had signed in the attendance register.

More In: Madurai