All the six councillors of the Communist Party of India (CPI), including the Deputy Mayor, stayed away from a special council meeting of the city Corporation held on Tuesday, putting the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)] under considerable pressure as it was left alone in countering the combined strength of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF).

For the past few days, differences have been simmering between the two constituent parties of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) over the issue of transfer of those belonging to the CPI’s employees’ union.

“We had discussed these issues in the LDF meeting on Monday. Most of the issues were sorted out then. We expected them to attend the council meeting, but it seems they still want to register their protest,” Mayor V.K. Prasanth told The Hindu .

Welfare pension survey

The special council meeting was called on a notice given by the BJP to discuss the issue of handing over the responsibility of surveys on the distribution of social welfare pensions to Kudumbasree, the streetlight issue, and the issue of transfer of employees belonging to opposition unions. The four-hour meeting was marred by frequent shouting matches between the councillors.

The opposition councillors accused the ruling party of using the Kudumbasree to undermine the authority of the councillors. However, the ruling party councillors were of the opinion that there was no other organisation equipped to handle such surveys effectively.

“No one had a problem when the Kudumbasree volunteers carried out the survey for the Pradhan Manthri Awaaz Yojana. The previous United Democratic Front government had also used their services and considered them as part of the government machinery,” said CPI(M) councillor R.P. Sivaji.

On the issue of streetlights, the Works chairperson Safeera Begum said that Rs.1.38 crore had been deposited with the KSEB in the past one year.

Opposition councillors said that merely depositing money was not enough, but a system should be put in place by which the payment was not cleared until the councillor attested to the fact that work was done.

On the issue of transfers, the Mayor said that the Corporation could not intervene in government policies.

Earlier, the meeting witnessed shouting matches between the CPI(M) and BJP councillors over a disparaging remark allegedly made by BJP councillor Karamana Ajith against the Mayor. He was later made to retract the statement and apologise unconditionally.