In the elections to the Kochi Corporation’s eight standing committees on Tuesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillors’ surprise move to vote for UDF-backed councillors in the polls to seats reserved for women gave the UDF a majority in one committee, while the LDF won majority in four others.
The LDF secured a majority in Development, Welfare, Health and Town Planning committees, while the UDF has a majority in the Works Standing Committee. Five seats remain vacant totally in three standing committees and these will be filled in another election to be held on January 18. The UDF currently has five seats in the Finance committee, while the LDF has four, leaving a single vacant seat that the LDF is hopeful of bagging next week, to give both sides an equal tally in the crucial committee.
In a first for the corporation, the BJP could possibly gain a majority in a standing committee. Four out of five BJP councillors secured seats in the Tax Appeals Standing Committee. BJP councillor Sudha Dileep Kumar, who secured a seat in the Education and Sports Standing Committee, resigned immediately and will now contest for a vacant position in the Tax Appeals Committee, which could give the BJP five out of nine seats in a single committee.
K.P. Antony, who had contested independently, and abstained from voting in the elections to the posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor, chose to support the LDF in the elections to the standing committees.
In a painstaking process that lasted seven hours, the election was held in two phases – the first was for a single seat reserved for women in each of the standing committees, while the second phase was for the remaining general seats. While the Finance Standing Committee has ten members, the others have nine each.
BJP councillors voted for UDF-backed candidates in the election to the seats reserved for women in six standing committees, giving the UDF candidates a total of 37 votes in each case.
In four of these cases, where the LDF and UDF candidates polled 37 votes each, the returning officer drew lots, picking the names of three LDF candidates and one UDF candidate. In the case of the Standing Committee for Works, a vote by an LDF councillor was considered invalid, giving the UDF a majority in that committee.
Ms. Sudha Dileep Kumar said that the party’s councillors only voted for UDF-backed ‘Independent’ candidates. “We did not vote for any of the Congress candidates, but for those who contested independently or were backed by other constituents of the UDF,” she said. The candidates they voted for were Laila Das of the Indian Union Muslim League, Kajal Salim who contested independently but was backed by the Welfare Party, Sunitha Dixon of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, Suja Lonappan of the Kerala Congress (Joseph) and Mary Calesta Prakasan who contested independently.