G. Happikumar of the CPI is Deputy Mayor

Left Democratic Front (LDF) nominee and Muttada ward councillor K. Chandrika of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was elected by the City Corporation Council and sworn in as the 43rd Mayor on Tuesday. She is the second woman to hold the post. PTP Nagar ward councillor G. Happikumar of the Communist Party of India (CPI) was elected Deputy Mayor.

Ms. Chandrika bagged 51 votes in the 100-member council, with the United Democratic Front (UDF) nominee Leelamma Isaac secured 40 votes. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Sheeja Madhu came third with six votes. While the Manikyavilakam councillor R. Sureshkumar (Independent) abstained from voting, two votes, that of S. Vijayakumar (Independent) representing Sreekaryam and K. Krishnankutty (Congress) representing Kalady, were declared invalid.

The LDF has 51 members in the council, UDF 41 and BJP six.

Ms. Chandrika's name was proposed by the former Mayor J. Chandra and seconded by Mr. Happikumar.

District Collector Sanjay Kaul administered the oath of office to Ms. Chandrika and handed over the ceremonial robe and chain.

Later, addressing the council, Ms. Chandrika promised a corruption- free, transparent administration in the Corporation office. She said she would put aside political differences and work with other members of the council to make Thiruvananthapuram a world-class city.

Ms. Chandrika was re-elected from the Muttada ward in the elections last month. Hailing from Thiruvalla, she moved to the capital city after marriage. She took voluntary retirement from the Kerala State Electricity Board to contest the elections to the Corporation Council in 2005. She is a practising lawyer in Thiruvananthapuram.

Mr. Happikumar won 50 votes to be elected Deputy Mayor. His main opponent, R. Harikumar (Congress) representing the Thampanoor ward, won 42 votes while BJP nominee M.R. Rajeev representing the Nettayam ward secured six votes.

One of the two Independent councillors, Sureshkumar (Manikyavilakam) abstained from voting while the other S.Vijayakumar's vote was declared invalid. One vote, that of Chakka ward councillor S.Santhini (CPI-M) went to the UDF. The LDF leaders later attributed the mix-up to a bout of dizziness experienced by the member.

Mr. Happikumar's name was proposed by Kuravankonam councillor P. Syamkumar and seconded by Palayam councillor Rajan P. Padmanabhan Nadar. He was sworn in by the Mayor.

In his address to the council, Mr. Happikumar said repair of the damaged roads in the city would be given top priority. He promised an intensive drive to enhance revenue collection. The Deputy Mayor said more funds would be earmarked to create better infrastructure in the new wards annexed from the suburban panchayats to ensure balanced development of the city.