Congress, IUML stick to demand for chairperson's post in municipality

The failure of the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) to agree over the chairperson of Kannur municipality, for the first half of the five-year tenure of the newly elected council, has put a damper on the United Democratic Front (UDF) which had retained the municipality with an improved majority. But the UDF leadership here is hopeful that the dissonance will be resolved before the election of the new chairperson on Monday.

The dispute is over who should be allowed the chairperson post in the first term. Both have staked claim to the first half and neither side is willing to back out. Kannur is the only municipality in the district where the UDF won, while Thalassery, Taliparamba, Koothuparamba and Payyannur municipalities were retained by the Left Democratic Front (LDF). In the 42-member Kannur municipal council, the Congress and the IUML won 16 seats each. But the IUML has staked claim to the first term on the ground that its tally in the council is larger, by one member, if the lone Indian National League (INL) member, elected from a seat handed over by the IUML, is considered.

“The Congress and the IUML leaders met on Saturday to decide on the issue. But the meeting was inconclusive,” Congress leader and chairman of the district UDF Sunny Joseph told The Hindu on Sunday.

Hopeful of solution

He said that following the meeting, the Congress had handed over a letter to the IUML seeking the latter's support to its nominee for the chairpersonship. In response, the IUML also sent a missive to the Congress reiterating its claim to the chairpersonship in the first term, Mr. Joseph said adding that the UDF State leadership, including Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala, would intervene to sort out the issue. He exuded hope that a final decision would emerge by night.

IUML sources here said that the party leadership here was irked by the Congress' announcement of former chairperson M.C. Sreeja as its nominee for the municipality's chairpersonship reserved for women. The IUML responded with a letter requesting the Congress to issue whip to the latter's councillors to back its nominee, who, however, was yet to be finalised.

The sources said that despite equal number of seats, IUML had better claim to the chairpersonship for the first half of the term, since the Congress had been accorded the chairmanship in the first half of the outgoing council.

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