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Monday, September 20, 2021

Political parties, residents bat for early civic polls in Bengaluru

The five-year term of the BBMP council ended in September 2020. The civic polls have reportedly been postponed owing to the state government’s plan to carry out a delimitation exercise. The BBMP, at present, has 198 wards.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: September 16, 2021 7:31:56 am
Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) office. (File)

Leaders from across the political spectrum, former corporators and residents have demanded that polls to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) be held at the earliest.

The demand emerged during a discussion, ‘Where is my Corporator’, conducted by an NGO, Janaagraha, on Wednesday.

The five-year term of the BBMP council ended in September 2020. The civic polls have reportedly been postponed owing to the state government’s plan to carry out a delimitation exercise. The BBMP, at present, has 198 wards.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the delay in holding the elections, participants at the meeting urged the State Election Commission (SEC) to follow the due process of law in conducting the BBMP polls.

Karnataka Rashtra Samithi (KRS) general secretary CN Deepak said that civic bodies have a role in several tenders floated by the state government. “It is the people’s money that is going into these works. Who exactly is accountable for all of this? Unfortunately, the state has been acting against the interests of the 74th Amendment,” he added.

Usha Mohan representing the AAP claimed that the SEC has been turned into a puppet in the hands of the ruling party. “We, the citizens of Bengaluru, have lost the power to vote in our local elections. In the absence of corporators, the concerns of citizens are going unheard,” Usha said. The panellists pointed out that civic issues such as garbage, roads, traffic and Covid-19 management require the participation of citizens at the ward level.

Shilpa Abhilash, a Congress representative and a former corporator of the New Thippasandra ward, said that nodal officers seldom act on local issues.

“Each MLA has at least seven wards under his/her jurisdiction. How can they focus on issues of all citizens in such a large area? Isn’t the government snatching away the rights of the people by delaying the civic elections? What does governance mean when people don’t have rights?” she asked.

Meanwhile, Swetha Vijaykumar from the BJP, who was the former corporator of the Doddanekundi ward, said, “I am not sure about the political reasons for the delay in holding the elections. However, civic works were conducted at a smooth pace when corporators operated. For instance, the functioning of the ward committee has been affected over the past few months.”

A two-time corporator from the Manorayana Palya ward, Congress leader Abdul Wajid termed the BBMP Act, 2020 as “visionless”. “The state government wants to get a unique Act for Bengaluru. I can’t see anything new in the BBMP Act, 2020. It is a cut and paste of the KMC Act. Like in Mumbai, all parastatal agencies need to be under the BBMP,” Wajid said.

“In the absence of fresh BBMP elections, the state government wants to take control of the Rs 10,000 crore BBMP budget. The state government is responsible for the delay in carrying out the delimitation process. The government is needlessly blaming the pandemic for the delay. Elections have been held in several states and districts in spite of the pandemic situation. Instead, the MLAs here have become super corporators,” Lalithamba BV, the campaign manager of the Bengaluru Navanirmana Party, said.

Srinivas Alavilli, the head of Civic Participation, Janaagraha, said democracy loses its meaning if elections are not held in a time-bound manner. “On the International Democracy Day, we heard that all political parties and people want the polls to be conducted. Without the BBMP council, the interests of Bengaluru residents cannot be protected. Also, forums like ward committees will not be meaningful without corporators because the latter know every nook and corner of their wards,” he added.

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