Reports of councillors seeking leadership change

With rumours of a leadership change running rife, City Corporation Council Opposition party leader Johnson Joseph of the United Democratic Front (UDF) said here on Wednesday that he had the support of all the 42 councillors.

Speaking to The Hindu here, he said no such demand had been aired at any of the party forums.

There were reports that Harbour ward councillor K.H. Sudheerkhan had demanded a change in leadership citing poor performance in the past three years at a meeting of the UDF parliamentary party held at the DCC office on Tuesday.

“There was no such discussion in the meeting and the reports are baseless. It was convened to discuss our plans to make the Chief Minister’s mass contact programme in the district a success. We also talked about the strategies to be adopted in highlighting the garbage problems and the issue of streetlights in the Corporation area,” Mr. Joseph said.

When contacted by The Hindu, Mr. Sudheerkhan said he had indeed raised the issue of leadership change and most of the councillors had supported him.

“The Opposition party’s performance has been a cause of concern and councillors are of the opinion that we will lose more seats in the next election due to this. It is a failure of the leadership alone. We failed to corner the ruling party even in cases where there was clear evidence of corruption. There is also a lack of communication from the top and many of the new councillors are unhappy about this situation,” Mr. Sudheerkhan said.

Fund allocation

Another issue was the awarding of more funds for streetlights in the wards of LDF councillors. When the issue was raised at the previous Council meeting, the LDF had said that there was an understanding on this with the Opposition leadership, but none of the councillors had knowledge about this, he said. He claimed that 35 out of the total of 42 Opposition councillors, including all coalition partners, supported his demand for a change of leadership.

Other Opposition councillors who attended the meeting at the DCC office said no such ‘concrete demand’ for change was voiced at the meeting.

“One councillor raised his concerns about the lack of performance. Also, the coalition party councillors demanded the formation of the UDF parliamentary party at the earliest. That has been happening in every past meeting. Other than that, there was no demand for leadership change,” said A. Mujeeb Rahman of SJ(D).

Other coalition members, M.B. Reshmi of JSS and G. Madhavadas of CMP, also denied any rift within the Opposition.

Mr. Joseph said only around 20 councillors attended the DCC meeting and so there was no ‘chance of 35 councillors supporting the demand.’

Mr. Sudheerkhan said he would take up a signature campaign from next week demanding an election to decide the new leader.

The conflicting claims were reportedly the outcome of rift between the ‘I’ and ‘A’ groups of the Congress. At the time of constituting the Council, the ‘I’ group got the post of chairperson for the town planning standing committee but it was unhappy over not getting the chance to lead the Opposition, sources said.