A barb hurled by Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) councillor M.G. Aristotle at Deputy Mayor K. A. Ansiya plunged a discussion on the Kochi Corporation Budget held in the council hall into bedlam on Thursday.
The comment, which was perceived as misogynist and derogatory of West Kochi by the treasury benches, peeved the Left Democratic Front (LDF) councillors, including women, and brought them to their feet in defence of the Deputy Mayor. Slamming Ms. Ansiya for abdicating her duty as chairperson of the Finance Standing Committee in preparing the Budget for the approval of the council, Mr. Aristotle sought to know whether ‘cleaning sardines’ had kept her busy and away from the committee meeting.
Ms. Ansiya had initially skipped a Finance Standing Committee meeting that she herself had called and then cancelled another last-minute meeting leading to the unprecedented situation of the Corporation Secretary tabling the Budget under Section 290 of the Kerala Municipality Act amidst chaos on Tuesday.
Backed by his Opposition colleagues, Mr. Aristotle remained steadfast and declined to withdraw the comment despite a demand to that effect by the vociferously protesting LDF councillors.
Mayor M. Anilkumar said the comment would be removed from the council documents before going on to chastise Mr. Aristotle. “I admit to my inability to tend to household chores, which is not the sole responsibility of women. The Deputy Mayor should be appreciated if she is doing that. Aristotle being a senior member of the council should be encouraging a first-time councillor like the Deputy Mayor. Criticise by all means but by not violating the decorum of the council,” he said.
A visibly upset Ms. Ansiya herself stood up in her defence and said that a personal emergency had kept her away from the Finance Standing Committee meeting and not her preoccupation with sardines. It was communicated with the committee members, she said before demanding that the UDF councillor withdraw his statement against her.