Friday, November 20, 2009

Citizens have few expectations as civic polls round the corner

Citizens have few expectations as civic polls round the corner

As the much-delayed election will be held in January, people feel the presence of an elected body in the BBMP is no guarantee for good governance and want representatives who can make Palike more accountable and transparent. Sunitha Rao R reports

Sunitha Rao R



With the Karnataka High Court giving a November 30 deadline to the state government to publish the reservation notification of civic wards, it seems the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike elections is finally going to take place in January next year.
But citizens do not have much expectations as they feel that the presence of an elected body in the BBMP is no guarantee for good governance.
The draft voters' list and the names of polling stations of 198 wards were released on Thursday. A total of 65.78 lakh voters will cast their votes in 5,998 polling stations for this much-delayed election the date for which is yet to be announced.
The urban authorities have identified 1,381 polling stations. For polling stations expected to draw more than 1,500 voters, auxiliary polling stations will be set up. The Bangalore Urban District will have 100 auxiliary polling stations. To avoid confusion among voters, these auxiliary polling booths will be set up close to the main polling stations. Besides, the Palike has listed 4,808 polling stations including the auxiliary ones.
Seven assembly constituencies fall under the urban administration with a voter population of 13.97 lakh. A total of 21 assembly constituencies come under the BBMP jurisdiction.
DNA sought the views of citizens about the exercise of choosing the city fathers.
Brigadier MS Murthy, president of residents' welfare association in HSR Layout, was critical.
"To me, the BBMP elections means a big zero as the representatives do not make much of a difference. We, as members of a residents' welfare association, are frequently in touch with the BBMP officials. This works well whereas, earlier, we had a corporator whose presence we could never feel. The presence of an elected body in the BBMP is no guarantee for good governance. I am certain nothing significant is going to emerge for us after this election," Murthy said.
A resident of HSR Layout for over eight years, he said not many changes had occurred in the layout which could be credited to their representative.
M Venkatesh, district convenor of Dalit Bahujan Party, said reservation should be a must in the BBMP elections.
"Of every Rs100 which the Palike gets, Rs18 should be utilised for the welfare of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. This has not been implemented since 1995. The former elected representatives in the Palike had ignored this despite our appeals," Venkatesh said.
"The city has people of all castes and debates should be held on good governance" he said.
"I will vote for a candidate who will implement the Kasturi Rangan Committee report within one year, failing which the candidate should step down from the corporator's post," said Ravichandar, a civic expert.
"If the report is not implemented, the coming election will not make any impact. It will be like any other civic elections in the past. Every time, the representatives promise citizens an active role in governance. But nothing happens. So this time also, it is going to be the same old wine in the same old bottle. BJP government had earlier promised in their manifesto that the report will be implemented within a year. But nothing came in execution," he said.
However, he preferred a corporation council to an administrative regime.
B Bhaskar, secretary of the federation of Jayanagar residents' welfare association, said a council of elected representatives in the BBMP could make the Palike more accountable and transparent in its functioning.
"Most of the BBMP officials lack transparency and are not friendly to the public. The contractors, who take up Palike's developmental work, do not have the expected quality. The new representatives should question them on this," Bhaskar said.
"Different political parties are preparing for the BBMP elections. They are roping in residents' welfare associations to work for them. But they fear that once elected, the corporators will only work for their party and not for the welfare of the locality they represent," Bhaskar said

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