Staff Correspondent

B.C. Neelamma of the BJP elected vice-president

Ashok was elected from Hebbale BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) manage to get his support

Madikeri: Independent member H.S. Ashok was elected president of the Kodagu Zilla Panchayat here on Friday.

Mr. Ashok cornered 15 votes compared to the 14 won by Sanjay Jivijaya, son of Somwarpet MLA, B.A. Jivijaya, who was elected from Hanagallu in Somwarpet Taluk.

B.C. Neelamma of the BJP, who won 15 votes, was elected vice-president of the zilla panchayat. She defeated Congress candidate Humayun Begum by a margin of one vote. Ms. Neelamma represents Makkandur in Madikeri taluk.

The post of the president was reserved for the general category and that of the vice-president for Backward Classes and Minorities `A'.

The Congress and BJP-Janata Dal (Secular) combine were vying with each other for the chair. Both had 14 members each in the 29-member zilla panchayat. The Congress was the single largest block with 14 seats; the BJP had 10 and Janata Dal (Secular) four.

Mr. Ashok was the lone independent member and he had won from Hebbale by beating B.G. Arun Kumar of the Congress, nephew of late Chief Minister R. Gundu Rao. There were four other independent candidates too in the fray in Hebbale, apart from Janata Dal (Secular) and BJP candidates.

Initially, the Congress was confident of getting the support of Mr. Ashok.

But the BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) managed to get the support of Mr. Ashok, who was touted as a supporter of Mr. Jivijaya.

The recent political developments in the State caused ripples in Kodagu politics too. The Congress, despite having 14 members, could not get Mr. Ashok's support.

C.S. Arun Machaiah, Janata Dal (Secular) MLC and the local BJP leaders S.G. Medappa, M.P. Appachu Ranjan, Sunil Subramani and Ravi Kushalppa had held talks on forging the new alliance in the district since Thursday.

Mr. Ashok thanked members of the zilla panchayat for their support and sought their cooperation to work for development of the district. All members, irrespective of their affiliations, should work for the welfare of the people.

Ms. Neelamma also thanked the members and voters of her constituency, pledging her support to work for development of the district.

Members B.C. Achaiah and Manu Muthappa of the BJP, S.N. Raja Rao and M.K. Nanjappa of the Congress, V.P. Shashidhar of Janata Dal (Secular), congratulated the president and the vice-president.

Addressing presspersons later, Mr. Machaiah urged the Government to hand over the inquiry into the alleged misuse of funds received by Kodagu district for the development of roads. He said several crores had come to Kodagu under various heads for development of roads. But substandard work was being carried out.

Former Somwarpet MLA Ranjan Appachu spoke.