KOCHI: Putting an end to the uncertainty over the new chairperson in Thrikkakara municipality, Left Democratic Front (LDF) councillor Usha Praveen, who represents Division 21 (Palachuvad), was elected to the top post on Wednesday.Usha was elected after UDF councillor E K Majeed’s vote was declared invalid. She defeated UDF councillor Ajitha Thankappan with a margin of one vote. Though the two fronts expected the chairperson to be selected through a draw of lots as both have 21 votes each, detection of an invalid UDF vote at the time of counting gave the chairperson’s seat to the LDF.
The election was necessitated after former chairperson Sheela Charu was disqualified by the State Election Commission under the anti-defection law. Last December, Sheela Charu shifted her allegiance from the UDF to the LDF to become the chairperson.
In the 43-member council, LDF has 22 members and the UDF 21. Since the State Election Commission allowed Sheela Charu only to remain as a councillor without voting rights, only 42 members were allowed to cast their votes. However, Majeed’s move in the election came as a shock to the UDF camp as they have issued whips to its councillors. LDF member K T Eldho will continue to be the vice-chairman of the municipality. Deputy Collector Padmakumar presided over the election.
It’s conspiracy, says Congress
Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders have alleged that Majeed accepted a bribe from the LDF to vote against UDF in the election. “We all expected a draw of lots to decide the new chairperson. The party has also issued a whip to the councillors before the election. We cannot consider this as a mistake as it is a clear case of bribe. Some conspiracy is involved in this,” said a senior Congress leader. The District Congress Committee has decided to seek an explanation from Majeed. However, Majeed refuted the allegations. “It was a mistake. I didn’t accept any bribe from LDF,” he said.
4th chairperson in 4 years
Usha Praveen is the fourth chairperson of the present council. Though LDF’s K K Neenu was elected chairperson in 2015, she had to resign from the post in 2018 after independent councillor Sabu Francis shifted his allegiance to the UDF. Following this, UDF’s M T Omana was elected the new chairperson and Sabu Francis the vice-chairperson. But by December, Sheela Charu, former UDF councillor, changed her mind and joined LDF to become the chairperson. Sheela had to resign after the State Election Commission disqualified her in October under the anti-defection law.