Panchayat president quits as feud intensifies within Twenty20

After being touted as a novel alternative governance model, Twenty20, a corporate-backed charity outfit that clinched power winning 17 of the 19 seats in Kizhakkambalam panchayat in suburban Ernakulam in the last local body polls, has now run into trouble with panchayat president K.V. Jacob putting in his papers on Wednesday.

Mr. Jacob chose to resign without waiting for the panchayat committee to take up the no-confidence motion backed by 14 members from Twenty20 and unleashed a scathing attack on Sabu M. Jacob, businessman and chief coordinator of Twenty20.

“The governance here is in violation of all established practices of administration in a democratic system because of which around ₹5 crore of government funds lapsed over the past three years. Mr. Sabu Jacob meddles in all matters related to governance and it is impossible to put up with his autocratic ways,” maintained Mr. Jacob who is set to address a press meet on Thursday.

While affirming that Mr. Sabu Jacob and Twenty20 had done many good things, Mr. Jacob alleged that it was no ground to operate arbitrarily and dictate terms in a democratic system. He alleged that contracts for road development executed without proper agreements were lagging behind, putting officials to hardships.

Mr. Sabu Jacob, however, denied the allegations as politically-motivated, wondering how Mr. Jacob who had been part of Twenty20 since its inception in 2012, had suddenly woken up to alleged autocratic ways.

Levelling corruption allegations against the president, Mr. Sabu Jacob said that the 12-member high power board of Twenty 20 and 16 of the 19 ward committees had voted for his resignation after he joined hands with Opposition parties to disrupt the work of a road in the panchayat by plotting to issue a stop memo by the panchayat secretary against it.

“Some government funds earmarked for specific projects may have lapsed but that was because the panchayat already had those projects up and running and there was no reason to waste those funds,” Mr. Sabu Jacob said.

Dissent brewed in Twenty20 a couple of years ago when two members, elected under its banner, chose to dissociate with it owing to the alleged autocratic ways of Mr. Sabu Jacob. M.V. George, one of those members, alleged his decision was triggered by Mr. Sabu Jacob's demand not to invite two Opposition members to his daughter’s marriage. He further alleged that Twenty20’s food security shop famous for dispensing essential items at much lower prices than the market rates was arbitrarily closed down in May by the chief coordinator.

A senior panchayat official alleged that the arbitrary ways of executing projects had created discontent among officials.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 7:37:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/panchayat-president-quits-as-feud-intensifies-within-twenty20/article30455030.ece

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