A.K. Premajam and P.T. Abdul Latheef of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were on Tuesday sworn in as the 22nd Mayor and Deputy Mayor respectively of Kozhikode Corporation.

They were elected through an open ballot system at a special meeting of the newly elected councillors at the Council hall. The voting for the post of Mayor took place at 11 a.m. and Deputy Mayor in the afternoon.

The elections were necessitated as the United Democratic Front (UDF) nominated M.T. Padma, Congress member, as its candidate for the Mayor's post, which was reserved for women, and K. Mohammedali, of Indian Union Muslim league (IUML) for the Deputy Mayor's post.

Prof. Premajam polled 38 votes while Ms. Padma secured 32. Only 70 out of the total 75 votes were valid. (The CPI(M) has a simple majority of 39 in the 75-member council. Besides, the party has also the support of the NCP. The UDF has 34 members).

The vote of CPI(M) member M. Sreedharan was cancelled due to poll violation. He had initially voted against his choice and requested for a second ballot paper. But District Collector P.B. Salim, who was the Returning Officer, refused to issue a second ballot paper.

The votes of C.P. Musafir Ahamed and Salma Rahman (CPI-M); Ayshabi Panikashala (UDF supported Independent); and T.K. Saudabhi (IUML); were considered invalid.

In the election to the Deputy Mayor's post, Prof. Latheef secured 41 votes and Mr. Mohammedali 33. The vote of P.V. Avaran (IUML) was invalid.

This is the second time that Prof. Premajam, 72, former Principal of Government Arts and Science College, Kozhikode, is being elected to the Mayor's post. She had a stint during 1995-98. Later, she successfully contested the elections from the Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency in 1988 and the again after the dissolution of Lok Sabha in 1999.

Prof. Abdul Latheef, who held the post of Deputy Mayor twice, heads the Department of Economics, Farook College.

In the morning, the meeting witnessed a verbal duel between the CPI(M) and UDF members after Mr. Sreedharan requested to vote afresh. The CPI(M) members argued that it was the right of a councillor to vote as he had not deposited the ballot paper in the box. But UDF members said Mr. Sreedharan should not be permitted to vote a second time.

The Collector then called up State Election Commissioner P. Kamalkutty and sought his advice on the matter. He was told that it was the discretion of the Returning Officer whether to allow a member to cast his vote again.

The Collector administered the oath of office to Prof. Premajam. Later, the Mayor administered the oath of office to the Deputy Mayor.

Prof. Premajam's name was proposed by CPI (M) councillor M. Radhakrishnan and seconded by Anita Rajan of Nationalist Congress Party, while Ms. Padma's name was proposed by K. Mohammedali (IUML) and seconded by N.C. Moinkutty of Socialist Janata- Democratic.

The members were told to mark a cross against the candidates of their choice and also write their names and put their signature on the reverse side of the ballot papers if their votes were to be valid. They were called onto the dais by chronological order representing the wards to cast their votes at a makeshift booth.

Prof. Latheef's name was proposed by T. Hamsa and seconded by T. Sujan, both CPI(M), while Mr. Mohammedali's name was proposed by K. Sathyanadan of Congress and seconded by Mr. Avaran.