With the present Kochi Corporation Council led by Mayor Soumini Jain completing three years in November, a group of councillors within the UDF is mooting the plan for a change of guard of the Corporation. However, it is learnt only a small section of workers are gunning for a change of guard, while a majority of the councillors are supporting Soumini. According to a senior councillor, the Lok Sabha elections are scheduled to be held next year and changing the Mayor at this point of time will damage the secular image of the Congress.
“The change of guard is demanded by a group, claiming the Latin Catholic Church supports the candidate whom they project as the new Mayor,” he told Express. “However, if we talk about the community equation, both the MLA and MP are from the Christian community. Hence, replacing the only non-Christian Congress candidate, who is in the top of the Civic Administration, will be like giving an opportunity to the BJP to exploit its agenda. Kochi is the only Corporation in Kerala where the UDF is in power. Changing the leadership will further worsen the situation,” said the councillor.
The UDF, including the Muslim League and Kerala Congress, has 38 members in the 74 -member of Corporation. Out of the total 35 Congress councillors, only a few are behind the change in guard demand, added sources. According to insiders, a group is actively arguing for replacing Soumini.
“The names being considered for the post are Town Planning Committee chairperson Shainy Mathew and Health Committee chairperson V K Minimol. The argument put forth by them is there was a verbal agreement soon after the elections in 2015 to change the Mayor after two and a half years,” said sources.
However, when asked about the change in guard, Ernakulam DCC president and deputy mayor T J Vinodh told Express there were no official discussions held in this regard. “I cannot comment on the basis of speculations and news reports. So far, the DCC has not discussed the change in leadership,” he said.Meanwhile, another Congress councillor said the idea of replacing the Mayor was rejected by the then KPCC Chief V M Sudheeran in 2015.