Corporators turn against sitting Cong MLA facing fraud charges

Corporators turn against sitting Cong MLA facing fraud charges

rajajinagar assembly BJP candidate Muniraju Gowda.Rajarajeshwari Nagar

Sitting MLA Munirathna from the Congress has a unique challenge. Besides allegations against him by the public, corporators from his own party are plotting to topple him.

The Rajarajeshwari Nagar MLA is defiant. “There’s a Supreme Court order not to give negative publicity to the candidate,” he said. “The public is making allegations without any record. I’ve asphalted 964 kilometres of roads across my constituency at a cost of Rs 450 crore. Only in Rajarajeshwari Nagar ward, a further 40% work needs to be done.”

The challenge for Munirathna is to quell the dissidents and woo the disenchanted voters. Corporators accuse him of not letting the elected ward representatives to work independently.

Congress corporator from HMT ward Asha Suresh and two of her fellow BBMP members complained against Munirathna to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. “The chief minister said he would speak to him, but nothing had been done,” she said.

A civic contractor, film producer and a corporator from Yeshwantpur, Munirathna was given the ticket to contest Rajarajeshwari Nagar in 2013.

He was recently chargesheeted in the Rs 1,500-crore fake bill scam, while also being indicted in the death of a minor in a wall collapse in the government veterinary college.

The RR Nagar constituency is dogged with a number of civic issues like bad roads and pavements, absence of stormwater drains and waterlogging during the rainy season. Despite efforts by the local residents to work with the corporators, they accuse the local MLA of only being interested in raising bills for the sub-standard works.

BJP candidate Muniraju Gowda P M described Munirathna’s work as: “Hale kallu, hosa billu” (old stone, new bill). He said the Congress candidate won in 2013 because of infighting in the BJP.

“He claims huge bills for sub-standard works. He rechristened the parks in his name. He picks cornerstones from one area and lays them in another place and claims bills for both the works. He has threatened to slap false cases against the public, who will not support him this time,” Gowda said.

JD(S) candidate G H Ramachandra said people are fed up with the sitting MLA. “They want change. They’ll support us this time and we are sure of winning by a margin of 50,000 votes,” he said.

Local JD(S) leader Narayanaswamy accused Munirathna of turning local youths into rowdy-sheeters and booking false cases against corporators. People in the constituency point to several sub-standard works by the MLA.

“During the rainy season, roads turn into cesspools. It’s harder for everyone to walk, especially the children of the Baldwin School. Basic infrastructure like roads, footpaths and stormwater drains are missing here,” said Savitha S Rao, a resident.

Tired of the indifference by the civic authorities, residents of BEML 5th Block collected money to asphalt the road themselves.

The RR Nagar constituency was created after the 2008 delimitation from the larger Uttarahalli constituency. The constituency has a heady mix of voters from different backgrounds. Cine artistes, IT professionals, retired government officials and textile/garment factory workers form the electorate here.

Though it is largely residential, parts of Laggare and Dasarahalli have garment factories among other industries.

Reality show contestant L Venkataram, known popularly as Huccha Venkat, is contesting here as an independent candidate with the ‘chappal’ as his symbol.