MLAs’ primary job: To legislate, not road and drain repair

Is laying a road or repairing a drain the MLA’s responsibility? Why should voters fall for such promises when the local corporator and the BBMP are tasked with that job?

Instead, pin your candidate down to what he is supposed to do: legislate for better policies and plans that make the city’s governance smart and efficient.

As Bengaluru city prepares to elect 28 representatives to the State Legislative Assembly, these critical questions — articulated by Srinivas Alavilli from Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB) — have come to the fore.

Alavilli elaborates: “The primary job of MLAs is captured in the letter ‘L’ — legislative — in their job title. Sadly, that letter has gone completely missing. Perhaps we can use this election to get the ‘L’ back in action.”

The MLAs have become ‘glorified corporators’ over the years, notes Alavilli. “They started acting as one-stop call centres for grievance redressals and wielding power over everything from building plan permits to garbage contracts. Citizens have gotten used to calling their MLAs for civic issues and the job description stands blurred.”

This long-standing trend has made it easy for candidates to design their campaigns with promises based on roads, drains and other local issues. Candidates are being let off without tough questions asked on legislation, city governance, planning and deteriorating quality of life in the city.

FB post triggers debate 

Last month, a Facebook post, enlisting an MLA’s actual responsibilities, had triggered a big debate. A comment by FB user Bipin Andani went this way: “This means, for the upcoming elections, we need to know, what laws were made by the MLAs in the past term.”

But it is now tough to access information on how much the MLA candidate strives to make laws.

As another FB user, media professional Shree D N contended, a citizen’s campaign could be initiated to ask the government to open up this data. Assembly proceedings uploaded online in a searchable format could be a good start.

Political literacy being extremely low is the problem, ruled Kiran Castelino. Alavilli agreed.

He responded with this telling remark: “The MLAs of Bengaluru wasted last five years not using the powers given to them by the Constitution, and failed us in representing our interests in our state legislature.”

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MLAs’ primary job: To legislate, not road and drain repair

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