The Congress-led UDF lost power in the Kottayam municipality in Kerala after eight members of the BJP backed a no-confidence motion introduced by the main Opposition party LDF.
This is the second municipality the UDF has lost control of in a week in Kottayam district, considered a stronghold of the Congress in central Kerala. It had lost power in Erattupetta municipality after a no-confidence motion introduced by the LDF got the backing of the SDPI, the political arm of the Popular Front of India (PFI).
In the Kottayam municipality, the fate of the 22-member UDF governing council under chairperson Bincy Sebastian became clear when the BJP, in a last-minute surprise move, decided to put its weight behind the no-confidence motion of the LDF. In the 52-member council, the UDF and LDF have 22 members each and the BJP eight.
While the UDF councillors stayed away from the motion, 30 members of the LDF and BJP took part in the proceedings, satisfying the quorum rules. At the end of the debate, when the motion was put to vote, 29 members voted for it, ousting the UDF council. One vote was deemed invalid.
K Anilkumar, a member of the CPM district committee, told reporters after the vote, “Despite having funds, this is a municipality that did not run community kitchens during Covid-19. It is the only municipality in Kerala run by the UDF that has not implemented the Life Mission housing project. In the last election, they (UDF) lost power, but they came back through the back door. This time, they were held by their throats and sent marching out the front-door by councillors of the LDF, supported by the people of Kottayam.”
At the same time, he deflected questions on the LDF accepting support of the BJP to oust the UDF.
BJP councillor from the Temple Ward of the municipality, Anilkumar R R, said the decision to join the motion of the LDF was approved by the party’s higher leadership.
“The LDF may have brought the motion, but the BJP was only respecting the sentiments of the people of Kottayam. In our wards, no development projects were carried out by the UDF council in the last nine months. They did nothing,” he said.
He added that the party’s state leadership will decide on the course of action to be adopted by the local unit in Kottayam.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan said the CPM has turned into a party which is ready to strike a deal with ‘any devil’ to weaken the UDF. He alleged that the CPM is comfortable siding with minority and majority communal forces.