KOCHI: After dilly-dallying for nearly a month, the Kochi corporation will finally see a change at its helm, besides an overhaul of all standing committee chairpersons, within a fortnight. Top sources at the KPCC maintained that an in-principle decision has been taken to revamp the entire council administration as per an agreement reached when Soumini Jain was elected mayor in 2015.
The proposed overhaul, however, will happen only after the election of deputy mayor -- after T J Vinodh was elected to the assembly -- slated for November 13. “When the issue came up before the KPCC and its political affairs committee last week, senior leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy stressed on the replacement of the mayor and others as per the initial agreement. According to him, the mayor alone could not be accused of the issues related to waterlogging in the city. Following this, the party entrusted KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran with taking a call on revamping the entire administration council,” said a top leader with KPCC.
With Vinodh resigning from the deputy mayor’s post after getting elected as an MLA, the UDF has 37 councillors in the corporation which has a total strength of 74. The LDF has 34 councillors while BJP has two.
According to the leaders, the ‘A’ faction had decided to replace Soumini after two-and-a-half years in 2015 and elect Shiny Mathew as mayor. Besides, the UDF council party meeting held in November 2015 upheld this decision along with the change in all standing committees considering the opinion of party leaders that the nominee of Kerala Congress (M), which held a standing committee chairperson’s post in the 2010 council, and other senior members of Congress also could get an opportunity of holding power. Kerala Congress had two members in the previous council, but only a sole member now -- Joseph P J (councillor from Kadavanthra).
Sources said this agreement was flouted following an internal arrangement in ‘A’ group when Soumini requested some time considering the marriage of her daughter. Following this, Lok Sabha elections were declared and the change of guard was extended, even as the opposition moved a no-confidence motion against the mayor. The demand to remove the mayor gained momentum after DCC president and deputy mayor Vinodh won the Ernakulam assembly bypoll with a margin of 3,750 votes.
“When a meeting of UDF councillors was held ahead of the no-confidence motion moved against the mayor, the minutes of the 2015 council party meeting were read out. Leaders M B Muraeedharan, A B Sabu and Vinodh had signed on this agreement. However, Soumini Jain is openly violating this now,” said a party leader.