Monday, January 25, 2010

Wooing RWAs for votes

Wooing RWAs for votes
Sandeep Moudgal and Rashmi Menon, Bangalore, Jan 24, DH News Service:

With just one month left for Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) polls, political parties are making the rounds in different constituencies and wooing people with many promises and sops.

Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) seems to have turned into vote banks, facilitating a ‘single-window’ approach by the political parties in various areas of the City. The RWAs play a major role in voicing and monitoring the civic issues in its respective area. Deccan Herald spoke to some of the RWAs to check if the political parties are exerting pressure or manipulating RWAs. Sundernagar RWA president N A Ramachandra Rao said the MLA has already started doing the rounds of the area. “A Congress aspirant has already taken credit for getting pensions sanctioned for around 20 people in the slum nearby. Some of the political parities are also organising religious festivals to get people's support,” he said.

Deep pockets

As some RWAs are braving the odds against the ‘deep pocket’ political parties and contesting the upcoming polls, others believe that the feasibility of fielding their candidates may just not help them.

Some RWAs have complained that the political parties also influence RWA members. A member of Ejipura ward, who is also member of Federation of Resident Welfare Associations of Ward 68 (FORWARD 68), revealed that they had prepared complete road map of the development and vision document of their area. “However, the MLA (BTM Layout constituency) has ‘hijacked’ our members,” he said.

He said, the MLA had lured some of the Federation members to work for him. Even the MLA immediately sanctions their proposals. “At one time, the Federation used to allocate the resources as per requirement and depending on the condition of the area. However, now things are happening haphazardly,” he said. He said in 2001, the then corporator had floated an RWA Ejipura Nivasigala Sangha, which became defunct soon after.

Guru Ravindranath of the Consumer Care Society in Banashankari 2nd Stage (Ward No 166), said that the ex-Corporator exerted pressure to ensure that his supporters are in the committees of different RWAs in the wards so that RWAs conceded his plans.

Besides, the MLA felicitated not only office-bearers of RWAs but also temple committee members and Mahila Samaja members, at a meeting last week. As a result, some of the RWAs are giving in to the politicians’ pressure, he said.

Kathyayni Chamraj from CIVIC said, “I think people will not be drawn into a political outfit even as their members may be silent loyalists of a certain political outfit. Every RWA has a mandate or a charter for its organisation which suggests that the office-bearers will be ‘apolitical’,” she said.

As a member of the Shantinagar Welfare Association, Chamraj recalled instances in the recent past when political outfits approached her to swing the RWA votes in their favour in the upcoming elections


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