These eight councillors have been elected consecutively since 1996
From 1996, these eight councillors of the Chennai Corporation have been elected consecutively. They were among the first batch of local body representatives elected after the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution on Panchayati Raj and Nagarpalika institutions came into force.
And they are still at work trying to sort out problems of the people and acting as a bridge between the officials and the public. But, they say they are not tired of working for the people and their belief in grassroots democracy has only deepened.
Given an opportunity - Mayor M. Subramanian, ruling party leader N.Ramalingam, Subash Chandra Bose, Selvi Soundarajan and K.Elumalai of the DMK and Leader of the Opposition Saidai P.Ravi, Suseela Gopalakrishnan and P.Nagarajan of the Congress would only choose to come back. With the backing of their respective parties, these councillors of the Chennai Corporation say they have been able to serve the people with the power.
Mr. Subramanian (ward 140) says: “Almost everyone in my ward knows my phone number and as a Mayor I have been able to serve a larger section of people. Though I get calls at 1 a.m. I am happy to help residents. I was successful in breaking an AIADMK bastion in Samiyar Thottam in Saidapet after I provided basic amenities to residents of a slum.”
Opposition Party leader Saidai P.Ravi alias P.Rangaramanujam was inducted into politics as a college student. “Everyone in my family has been Congress sympathisers and when I wanted to work for the party, they encouraged it. If I had not won in the students' union election in 1972 in Thyagaraya College I would have gone on to be something else.” He, however, had to change wards from 136 to 137 to the present 116 as they all became womens' wards.
Another Congress councillor who made a mark among residents in 54 streets in ward 124 is Suseela Gopalakrishnan. Speaking Tamil with a strong Malayalam accent, she has been in the party for 30 years and makes it a point to visit all streets every week on her two-wheeler.
“It was G.K.Moopanar who gave me a seat when I joined the Tamil Manila Congress in 1996. The next time I stood as an Independent and won as the party denied me a ticket. After that it was Jayanthi Natarajan who took me to Sonia Gandhi and took me into the party once again.”
Councillor of ward 85 P.Nagarajan, who is 75-years-old, was in Seva Dal and later joined the Congress. “I had the opportunity to see leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajaji, M. Kamaraj and Ambujammal at the Avadi Congress Conference in 1954.”
Ruling party leader N.Ramalingam (ward 75) says he has never misused his powers or spoken harshly to officials. “I have always been supportive of the Mayor and the decisions he has taken.”