UDF-led Opposition keeps off meeting

The city’s civic and development works continue to be held hostage as a polarised Corporation Council appears more keen on trading personal attacks and making allegations of assault against each other even as a beleaguered Mayor faces a no-confidence motion.

Signs that public projects may suffer were evident with the United Democratic Front (UDF)-led Opposition councillors refusing to take part in a Council meeting called on Thursday, saying it was a “conspiracy” hatched by the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) to neutralise the no-confidence motion raised against Mayor A.K. Premajam.

The motion is scheduled for discussion on June 25. The District Collector, who is the authority as per the municipal law, will preside over it.

The Opposition had sought the motion on the ground that the Mayor refused to take action against two councillors who allegedly manhandled Leader of the Opposition M.T. Padma and Deputy Leader of the Opposition K. Mohammedali during a council meeting on May 28.

The May 28 meeting, which ended in chaos, was called to discuss the issue of the death of a woman who fell into an open drain near the Kozhikode railway station.

The crisis went from bad to worse recently with the UDF announcing complete non-cooperation with the ruling side. The front also decided to quit all official posts in the Corporation’s ongoing golden jubilee celebrations.

Clean-up hit

But even more stark is the lack of sanitation measures or drainage cleaning in the city by the civic body. A Rs.100-crore sewerage project implemented by the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project is reeling under charges that the pipes laid were of poor quality.

Again, the contract for a new waste plant at Njeliyanparamba has courted public controversy.

Charges galore

Today, instead of the council hall in the Kozhikode Corporation complex, the battle of words ensued in back-to-back press conferences held in the chambers of Mr. Mohammedali and Ms. Premajam.

Mr. Mohammedali set the mood at his press meet by accusing the Mayor of being “autocratic and narrow-minded” in her official dealings. He said the UDF would not take part in any meetings till the no-trust motion was taken up.

On the waterlogging and sanitation worries in the city, Mr. Mohammedali was non-committal. “We have always placed these developmental and public interest issues in the forefront. Any issue of public interest, the UDF has never played spoilsport. I challenge the Mayor to say we have stood in the way of such projects.”

He said though the Mayor had called them for “table talks” twice to resolve the stand-off within the civic body, no decision could be arrived at.

In her press meet, Ms. Premajam defended her authority to call a Council meeting.

“Where is it said that I cannot call a Council meeting until the no-confidence motion is discussed? What they (Opposition) have done today is not right. The Council has to be held in a peaceful manner,” she said.

Supporting her, Deputy Mayor P.T. Abdul Latheef said the conduct of the Opposition lacked etiquette.

“The Mayor in a council meeting holds the same authority as that held by the Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly. Protests should be within the democratic parameters,” he said.

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