Staff Reporter

Sugunan elected panchayat president

  • Sugunan defeated UDF candidate Thomas Kunnappally
  • All district panchayats except for Malappuram are with LDF

    KOTTAYAM: Communist Party of India(Marxist) (CPI-M) representative K.P. Sugunan was on Friday elected district panchayat president.

    He got 12 votes against the 11 polled by the United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate and the former president Thomas Kunnappally. Mohan Thomas of the Kerala Congress(Secular) is the new vice-president. He defeated Sudha Kurian of the Congress by the same margin. With Friday's election, the LDF has established control over all district panchayats in the State, except Malappuram. Kottayam, which was with the UDF, was won by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) when the Kangazha division was wrested by LDF's N. Prabhakara Kurup in the recent bypolls. The byelections were necessitated by the vacancy created by the resignation of N. Jayaraj of Kerala Congress(M) who was elected to the Assembly.

    Friday's election was not without its dramatic moments. Two members of the Kerala Congress (J) took a dissident stand, demanding their party's turn in the presidentship and also on the issue of the LDF decision to give the vice-presidentship to the Kerala Congress (Secular), which is not a constituent of the LDF. They had earlier walked out the district-level meeting of the LDF on the issue. Till Friday morning, they maintained that they were against the candidature of Mohan Thomas and were undecided about the voting pattern. Even after extending their support to presidential candidate, one of the KC(J) representatives, Biju Kaiparedan, walked out of the hall, only to be brought back under pressure by CPI(M) leaders.

    Senior KC(J) leaders, when contacted, said they were against the candidature of Mr. Thomas as the vice-president. They said the issue was never discussed in the LDF at the State level. The party would take up the matter in the LDF. In the 23-member council, CPI(M) has six members, CPI three, KC(J) two, and KC(Secular) one. The UDF camp comprises seven KC(M) members and four Congress members.