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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Defections rampant in local bodies

N.J. Nair

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With three months left for the elections to the local bodies institutions, defections to the National Congress(I) from the Congress are becoming rampant.

In the wake of the political uncertainty over the split in the party, Congress members of the Local Self-Government Institutions (LSGIs) are weighing the chances of winning the elections and are crossing over to the rival camp. Still others are getting ready to quit, hoping that the NC(I) will forge an alliance with the LDF. Seven Congress councillors of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation were the first to express their willingness to join the NC(I) camp. Five members of the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat and five councillors of the Kollam Corporation too have offered to quit their posts and join the party. All of them have handed over their resignation letters to Mr. K. Karunakaran. The NC(I) State leadership has not issued any specific directive to the local bodies' members owing allegiance to the `I' group to relinquish their posts and the decisions are being made at the regional level, sources said.

The LSGIs led by the UDF faced a similar crisis a year ago when members of the `I' group joined hands with the LDF and voted out the committees headed by the Congress members. The UDF had lost four panchayats in the district and several others all over the State where the `I' group had a strong foothold. A similar strategy is being worked out by the regional leaders and more Congress members are expected to defect to the NC(I) in the coming days in Thiruvananthapuram and other districts where the party wields a clout, sources said.

Even if the members tender their resignation to the panchayat secretaries officially, byelections to the posts will not be held since the tenure of the existing committees is less than six months and the State Election Commission has already set the process for the general election in motion. But such defections will pave the way for the election of presidents and vice-presidents and lead to a change of guard. Legal action can be taken against the defectors only if they violate the whip issued by the parliamentary party leader or a complaint is filed against them with the Election Commission. But the party leaders are unlikely to resort to such steps since the members are busy completing the projects taken up under the Kerala Development Plan and are bracing up to fight the impending elections.

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