T Padmakumari of the Bharatiya Janata Party can continue as a councillor in the Kochi corporation as fortune has favoured her twice in two years. If the first lot was in the polling booth, the second lot was drawn in the courtroom.
In the local body elections held in 2020, Padmakumari, a political novice, shocked Congress heavyweight N Venugopal, who was a pick for mayor, by one vote. Curiously, the election in the Island North Division, a Congress stronghold, had to undergo an unprecedented process. Though 496 people exercised their franchise, at the end of polling, only 495 votes were recorded in the electronic voting machine (EVM). It needed one more vote in the machine to declare the process of election complete.
Hence, the presiding officer, with the consent of all parties, decided to cast a vote. Then the vote was decided by a lottery, and the lot came in favour of Padmakumari. Accordingly, the presiding officer voted for her symbol ‘lotus’. However, there was another surprise in waiting. When the votes were counted, Padmakumari stunned everyone by seizing the ward from Congress, that too by one vote.
Soon, the rival candidate, N Venugopal, approached the Principal Munsiff Court, alleging the vote by the presiding officer was irregular.
The court accepted Venugopal’s argument and said the vote by the presiding officer was in a manner not even heard of. Following this, that extra vote was annulled. With this, the number of votes for the BJP and the UDF candidates became 181 each. Hence, a draw was necessitated to select the winner. In the lottery held in the courtroom on Wednesday, in the presence of the lawyers, Padmakumari emerged as the lucky one.
The Congress camp, meanwhile, was preparing plans to take over the corporation on its strength if the lot were in favour of Venugopal. There were proposals to bring the independents to the Congress side and retrieve the corporation reins from the CPI(M). But fate was in favour of Padmakumari and all the Congress’s plans were in vain. BJP workers celebrated the victory by giving a reception to Padmakumari, who was re-elected as councillor.
Last month, the BJP could retain the Ernakulam South division as Padmaja Menon was elected in the by-election following the death of their councillor. The saffron party has five seats in the Kochi corporation council, the highest in its history.