BJP moves resolution, LDF supports it

The nation-wide protest against the arrest of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare found an echo in the City Corporation Council on Tuesday.

A meeting of the council adopted a resolution condemning the arrest and the crackdown on Team Anna in New Delhi. The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) backed the resolution moved by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) council party leader P. Ashok Kumar. Finding themselves isolated on the issue, the United Democratic Front (UDF) benches resorted to heckling, sparking off heated exchanges.

UDF leaders Johnson Joseph and K. Maheswaran Nair were on their feet as soon as Mr. Kumar finished reading out the resolution. They said the council did not have the mandate to discuss an issue political in nature. Mayor K. Chandrika was quick to overrule the objection.

Chairman of works standing committee V.S. Padmakumar termed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's handling of the situation as unprovoked, anti-democratic, and anti-constitutional. The Mayor refused to concede a point of order raised by Mr. Nair, triggering off a fresh flurry of protest from the UDF benches.

Intervening in the discussion, she said that President Pratibha Patel's message to the nation on Independence Day eve had highlighted corruption as a major issue in India.

The resolution was put to vote and adopted by majority, even as UDF members stormed the well of the House shouting slogans. This triggered angry remarks from the LDF benches, leading to an uproar.

The UDF councillors returned to their seats but continued with their protest.

A third round of angry exchanges followed when Mr. Nair accused Mr. Padmakumar and some LDF leaders of hatching a conspiracy to vitiate the atmosphere in the council. Members on both sides moved towards each other threateningly. Senior councillors, including former Mayor J. Chandra, intervened to bring the situation under control.

An official resolution on the local fund audit report for the year 2008-09 provided the UDF with another opportunity to continue its tirade. Moving the resolution, Deputy Mayor G. Happikumar sought the council's approval for the finance standing committee's decision to seek an explanation from the officials responsible for the lapses pointed out in the report. He said the guilty officials would be held responsible for the loss suffered by the Corporation and the amount would be realised from them.

Mr. Nair said the Corporation was steeped in corruption and maladministration. “Beset by intense factional rivalry, the CPI(M) leadership has turned a blind eye to civic administration. Vector control activities are lagging, the stray dog menace has reached a crisis, and roads are in a miserable condition. The LDF is going all out to shield corrupt officials,” Mr. Nair said.

Leaders of the UDF said there was no point in discussing the issue without distributing copies of the audit report.

Keywords: Anna Hazare