Show-cause rattles Councillors

TIRUCHI, JULY 6. The Tiruchi Corporation's move to issue show- cause notices to 30 councillors of the DMK and its allies for holding a ``parallel meeting'' on Wednesday, has given a jolt to the members who participated in that session.

This is the first time a major confrontation has erupted between the Mayor and DMK councillors, who along with their allies, command a majority in the 60-member council.

The councillors, holding a ``parallel meeting'' after the abrupt adjournment of Wednesday's meeting, were apparently playing to the gallery. However, the Mayor (in-charge), Mrs. Emily Richard, took serious note of the incident.

The Commissioner, Mr. S. Karuthaiah Pandian, on her directions, issued the notices to the councillors, under Sections 34 and 444 of the Tiruchi Corporation Act 1995, asking why action should not be initiated against them for conducting the ``parallel meeting.'' The councillors have been asked to submit their explanations within three days.

Twenty four DMK councillors and one each from the JD (united), the TMC Democractic Forum, the MDMK, the MGR-ADMK, the MGR Kazhagam and an independent were among those who were issued the notices.

Besides, Mr. Selvaraj of the DMK was issued notice for illegally occupying the Mayor's chair. Mr. R. C. Babu (TMC) and Mr. Mariam Pitchai (AIADMK) were also issued similar notices for occupying the chairs of the Deputy Mayor and the Commissioner. The Corporation authorities have also forwarded a report to the Government.

According to Corporation sources, the councillors, could attract a penalty of upto Rs. 500 if they fail to provide a satisfactory explanation.

But Mrs. Richard has indicated that she would take up the matter with the government for follow-up action, which could even lead to disqualification of the councillors from contesting elections, after considering the replies.

Rattled by her move, the councillors of the DMK and its allies were huddled at a meeting today to find a way out of the tangle. Mr. Kulandaivelu told mediapersons that the councillors would submit their replies after consulting their lawyers. Later, in a joint statement, they condemned Mrs. Richard for issuing press statements accusing the DMK councillors of indulging in a needless political debate rather than focussing on civic issues.

Claiming that Mrs. Richard was earlier elected Deputy Mayor with DMK support, they said she should concentrate on fulfilling the basic needs of the City, instead of issuing press statements against councillors.

The statement, however, made no reference to the issue of show- cause notices. Notwithstanding the war of words, indications are the DMK councillors may look for a face-saving way out of the present tangle without precipitating the matter any further.