THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: More numbers in the opposition seems to have helped only to add more politics in the City Corporation; for, no healthy discussion or wise thoughts lighted up the first day of budget discussion on Tuesday. Every possible political development that had no link whatsoever with the Corporation - right from Selvaraj to Piravom byelection - came up during the discussion, that extended till 6 pm.
UDF leader Maheswaran Nair was the first to stir the hornet’s nest with his comment that on a simple gesture, many LDF members might jump to the UDF camp as it happened with former CPM MLA Selvaraj. When Mayor K Chandrika made it clear at the beginning of the discussion session that Finance Committee members will not be allowed to speak, Maheswaran Nair thought aloud as to whether the Mayor was a ‘’Chambal Rani’’ to unleash such an authority.
For UDF members, including JSS member M B Resmi, who lashed out against the Deputy Mayor for presenting old wine in new bottle, the biggest slip was the absence of the name of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the budget speech. Even when using gargantuan amounts from Centrally-sponsored schemes to pad up funds for Corporation projects, no mention of the UDF Government was made in the budget speech, they argued.
When Health Standing Committee Chairperson Pushpalatha could not contain her anger over the way the UDF Government harassed the women who offered Pongala, UDF leader Johnson Joseph retaliated, saying that the LDF leaders were on a harassment spree, or what else could explain the behaviour of V S Achuthanandan towards women, or of Anavoor Nagappan towards Selvaraj.
Palayam Rajan, Welfare Standing Committee Chairman, said that projects to ensure safety of women travellers in the city should be included. Pushpalatha said that the Corporation should buy more ambulances and should allot more funds for the decentralised solid waste management project. Resmi said that the discarding of the MN Housing Project, instituted in the name of a CPI leader, by a CPI Deputy Mayor in the budget was surprising.
Towards the end of the discussion, the BJP staged a walkout when its leader P Asok Kumar was not given the chance to speak. The Mayor reiterated that Finance Committee members were not allowed time.
Winding up, Deputy Mayor G Happykumar said that he was sad to see that no healthy suggestions had come up during the discussion and, instead, the members had wasted their time in mere political jabbering.
The budget discussion will continue on Wednesday too.