Thiruvananthapuram: Kochi Corporation mayor Soumini Jain on Wednesday appeared to have sailed through the political affairs committee of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) with former KPCC president V. M. Sudheeran vehemently objected to the move to unseat her by "vested interests". He alleged that the group loyalists had hatched a plot to oust her in the guise of the High Court's observation on the city getting waterlogged on the poll day.
KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran had summoned Ms Jain to Indira Bhavan amid pressure from Congress leaders from Ernakulam who wanted to see the mayor go. Mr Ramachandran, however, showed no signs to give in to the pressure but wanted to take senior leaders Ramesh Chennithala and AICC general secretary Oommen Chandy on board before taking a final decision.
However, the high-power PAC meeting got delayed which resulted in the delay of a second round of meeting between the leaders and the mayor.
Mr Sudheeran was firm in his stand that under no circumstances can Ms Jain be removed from the post as it was the collective responsibility of the corporation leadership to run the civic body. According to him, T.J. Vinod, the newly elected Ernakulam MLA, was the deputy mayor.
"If 'I' group leaders like Hibi Eden, MP, and KPCC general secretary N. Venugopal had targeted Ms Jain earlier, now 'A' group leaders Benny Behanan, MP, former MLAs Dominic Presentation and K. Babu are also keen on replacing her. Only then they can bring in an affluent Shiny Mathew, standing committee chairperson who is a councillor from Fort Kochi ward," said a Congress source.
Meanwhile, the Indian Union Muslim League has also expressed its uneasiness over the hasty move to remove the Mayor. The Congress has not discussed the matter with the party, according to IUML councillors.
It is learnt that 10 UDF councillors have sent letters to the KPCC chief urging him not to oust Ms. Jain. According to the supporters of the mayor, her ouster will upset the UDF-led council.
Earlier two women councillors Geetha Prabhakar (independent) and UDF member Jose Mary had openly supported Ms Jain and alleged that move to oust the mayor is the individual interest of a few senior Congress leaders.