Prasanna Earnest of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was elected the new Mayor of Kollam on Tuesday. Immediately after her election was formally declared by the District Collector and Returning Officer Devendrakumar Dhudawat, Ms. Earnest took charge of the post at a public function held within the City Corporation headquarters complex.

In the 55 member Corporation Council, the Left Democratic Front has the majority with 34 members with the CPI(M) having 20 members. The district committee of the party had earlier selected her as the LDF’s mayoral candidate. Ms. Earnest was elected from the Thamarakulam Division.

When the 55 councillors of the Corporation Council met at 11 a.m. to elect the new mayor, the CPI councillor G. Lalu, representing the Mangad Division, proposed Ms. Earnest’s name as the mayor and it was seconded by RSP councillor S. Meenakumari representing the Shakthikulangara Division.

An election was warranted when Indian Union Muslim League councillor, Majida Wahad representing the Kayyalakkal Division proposed the name of O. Jayasree of the Congress, representing the Kadappakada Division as the mayoral candidate of the United Democratic Front. Her name was seconded by Udaya Sukumaran of the Congress representing the Punnathala Division.

The UDF has 19 members in the council. The council also has a Peoples Democratic Party member and an independent (Congress rebel). The councillors were told that they should put an “X” mark against the name of the candidate they intend voting and also sign on the reverse side of the ballot along with their names.

When the results were announced, the LDF received 34 votes and the UDF its 19 votes. But the other two votes were declared invalid. Though the PDP member M. Kammaluddeen representing the Koottikada division voted for Ms. Earnest, instead of the “X” mark he had put a tick mark against her name and this rendered his vote invalid. The independent member G. Satheesh Kumar representing the Palakadavu division deposited his ballot in the ballot box without voting for anyone and thereby rendering his vote invalid.

The oath of office was administered to Ms. Earnest by the Dr. Dhudawat. At the function in this connection the Ministers P.K. Gurudasan, M.A. Baby and N.K. Premachandran were present. A huge crowd of supporters cheered Ms. Earnest as she took the oath. Being a former activist of the Students Federation of India, Ms. Earnest was accorded a special welcome by former SFI activists, under the banner of Comrades@Cyberspace. The welcome was accorded in the form of the three mythical characters Panchali, Kunti and Damayanthi, all in kathakali attire.

This was to symbolize the growth of women empowerment in Kerala under LDF rule, one of the organizers of the programme said. Earlier Ms. Earnest and other LDF councillors were brought to the Corporation headquarters in a cultural procession from the CPI(M) district committee office.