State government should decide on the issue: Mayor

A resolution moved by the United Democratic Front (UDF) council party to ban protest marches and demonstrations on MG Road and in front of the Secretariat was rejected at a special council meeting of the city Corporation on Friday. The support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillors meant that the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) council party could comfortably defeat the resolution, when it was put to vote.

The meeting ended with Mayor K. Chandrika saying that it was for the State government to take a decision on the issue.

The Opposition criticised the Mayor’s move and said they would demand for one more special council meeting to resolve it.

The proceedings kicked off with UDF councillor Tony Oliver, who moved the resolution, saying that the intention was not to oppose protests, but to find an alternative venue “according to the wishes of the common people of the city.” “The main argument for the protests in front of the Secretariat is that it gives visibility to the demands being raised. But successful protests like Chengara and Plachimada happened in villages,” he said.

‘Natural reaction’

The ruling party countered this argument by saying that even these protests were grass-root level ones, which had the support of the local people. LDF councillor A.J. Sukarno said protests were natural when anti-people policies were enacted by those in power.

BJP councillor P. Ashok Kumar criticised the UDF for wasting the time of the council by moving such a resolution. He also referred to the shortened Budget discussion earlier this week, in which many major projects were passed without any discussion.

He said the government should hand over the Chandrashekaran Nair stadium to the Corporation so that protests and demonstrations could be held without disrupting normal life.

Deputy Mayor G. Happykumar said the city Corporation had no role in deciding where the protests should be held and the government should be ideally doing it. He asked the UDF councillors why they were not protesting against the flex boards all over the city, which was hampering the movement of motorists.

“The UDF has a culture of taking out colourful processions, and opposing genuine protests.

The protests at the Secretariat are not done by people in this city alone. People from all over the State come here. We have to consult them also before taking a decision,” said Mr. Happykumar.

‘Against order’

UDF councillor Maheswaran Nair taunted the Left councillors by bringing up the criticism levelled by Sandhya against the Cliff House siege of the LDF. LDF councillor J. Chandra said there were no protests during the Emergency, but that did not create any positive impact in the economy. Works standing committee chairman V.S. Padmakumar said the resolution was against the High Court order of 2004 that demanded control of the State government over the protests, rather than ban it. He said the government should take immediate steps to implement the court order.