The presentation of the last annual budget of the City Corporation was marred by a clash between the ruling LDF and Opposition UDF benches on Saturday. Councillors belonging to both sides, including women, pushed and shoved each other and traded blows after the UDF members raised slogans terming the budget as a package of repetitions and hollow promises. A tense situation prevailed in the council hall for almost an hour.

The UDF councillors were on their feet a short while after Deputy Mayor V.Jayaprakash started reading out the budget proposals. They raised their voices in protest even as Mr.Jayaprakash continued his presentation amid thumping of the desks by the ruling front councillors. The Opposition members then walked into the well of the council hall shouting slogans accusing the LDF of hoodwinking the public. They later tore up the copies of the budget and threw them into the air.

This provoked the LDF members who stormed into the well to confront the Opposition which has only 10 councillors in the 86- member council. The situation quickly deteriorated after councillors started pushing each other and engaged in fisticuffs. The Deputy Mayor's microphone was snatched away and the members started trading blows.

With both sides in a belligerent mood, Mayor C.Jayan Babu struggled to bring the situation back under control. Mr.Jayaprakash continued his presentation amid heated exchanges and intermittent clashes. Some of the members had their shirts torn in the melee.

Development of urban infrastructure has been given priority in the Rs.8.24 cr surplus budget which shows a total revenue of Rs.668. 56 cr and expenditure of Rs.660.32 cr. An amount of Rs.20 cr has been earmarked for the repair and maintenance of 700 km of roads in the city. The budget has set apart Rs.60 cr for the EMS mass housing scheme. It proposes a Rs.4 cr scheme to provide self employment for women members of 1000 Kudumbasree units in the city.

The budget proposes the establishment of a plastic recycling unit, a satellite slaughter house and a new electric crematorium. Development of markets and improvement of slums are other thrust areas in the budget.

UDF leaders later alleged a conspiracy by the ruling front to suppress their democratic means of protest in the council. They demanded stern action against the LDF councillors who had assaulted them.

Talking to newsmen, the Mayor said the violent incidents were the result of unnecessary provocation by the UDF.