Thursday, April 22, 2010

Can Bangalore City Mayor represent all?

Can Bangalore City Mayor represent all?

Y Maheswara ReddyFirst Published : 22 Apr 2010 05:52:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 22 Apr 2010 08:37:16 AM IST
BANGALORE: If the number of votes polled by 111 BJP corporators in the recently held elections to BBMP is anything to go by, it seems that just 15.8 per cent of the total voters of Bangalore have the decision- making power over the vast majority of people in Bangalore. If a majority shows no interest to come to polling stations to exercise their franchise, the outcome of the polls becomes a mockery of democracy.
The stage is set for the election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor on Friday, provided all the legal hurdles are cleared. The two posts would be decided by election or selection from among the 111 BJP corporators.
BBMP will get its first Mayor after it was formed in 2007 by merging the then Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) with seven city municipal councils, one town municipal council and 111 villages around Bangalore.
According to the State Election Commission, there are around 70 lakh voters in BBMP limits. The cause of concern is the low turnout of voters for the BBMP polls. Despite efforts by various residential welfare associations and NGOs, the percentage of voting was 44.6. Only 30,72,799 voters had exercised their franchise.
There were many reasons for the low turnout. One reason was the apathy of voters towards the BBMP election that was delayed by more than three-and-half years for various reasons.
It was believed the BJP delayed holding elections to the BBMP.
The faulty voters’ list also contributed to make it inconvenient for voters who wanted to exercise their franchise.
For example, an army man had to quarrel with polling officials as his name was missing from the list.
In another instance, the name of the voter’s father was changed. “I was shocked to find my neighbour’s name in place of my father’s name. I hesitated to go to the polling station,” said Subhash Javali, a chartered accountant who resides at 19, Kaveriappa Layout in Vasanthnagar.
Voters at many areas were disappointed with the corrupt practices of candidates who tried to influence them by distributing sarees and gold coins.
The 111 BJP candidates were elected by polling 38 per cent of the votes, while Congress succeeded in getting 34 per cent of the votes.
Now, the question is whether the new Mayor can be a representative of 70 lakh voters of Bangalore. Besides BJP and the Congress, the JD(S) polled 15.07 pc and others 12 pc of the votes.
The percentage of polling did not cross half the number of total votes.
The BJP’s pie of the votes polled also did not cross half of the total votes polled. More than 25 of its candidates got elected with a margin of less than 1,000 votes.
Even, prominent contestants for the Mayor’s post failed to get half the number of votes in their respective wards.
However, a Political Science at Bangalore University begged to differ. He said that one among the elected corporators has to be elected as a Mayor. “In a limited democracy, we have no choice but accept one of the corporators as Mayor. One should not take the percentage of votes as a criterion to elect a corporator as Mayor. If we take the percentage of votes polled out of the total votes, Yeddyurappa cannot become chief minister of Karnataka or Manmohan Singh India’s prime minister,” the professor said.
Is there any alternative to electing or selecting one among the corporators as Mayor? “Direct elections to the Mayor’s post along with elections to the BBMP can be a solution. The BJP had promised in its election manifesto to have direct election to the Mayor’s post but failed to honour its promise due to reasons best known to it,” said the professor, adding that direct election will make the Mayor a representative of half the number of Bangaloreans.

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