Language row mars session with candidates

BJP workers disrupt Nilekani's English speech; Congmen interrupt Ananth Kumar

Language row mars session with candidates

Congress candidate from Bangalore South constituency Nandan Nilekani‘s ‘lack of command’ over Kannada became a ground for BJP workers to ‘hijack’ the ‘Candidates Meet the Citizens’ event organised by the Bangalore Political Action Committee (BPAC), to introduce candidates to the voters. BJP’s Ananth Kumar, Nilekani, Aam Aadmi Party’s Nina P Nayak and JD(S) candidate Ruth Manorama took part in the programme.

The BJP supporters went berserk, prompting the Congress workers to react in an equally rude manner. 

The organisers started the event, addressing the people in English. Even the BPAC president and Biocon chief executive officer Kiran Mazumdar Shaw gave an introductory speech in English. 

The first session of the event was about the contestants’ vision for the planned urbanisaton of Bangalore. Starting the discussion, sitting MP Ananth Kumar said water, roads, transportation facilities and basic civic amenities are what people demand today. 

He said it was the BJP, which brought Metro rail to Bangalore. When Atal Behari Vajpayee was the prime minister, he gave nod to the Cauvery water projects for Bangalore. He also claimed that the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) came into being due to the BJP government’s efforts. He said that if the BJP comes to power this time, 100 smart cities will be created in India and a dedicated bullet train from Bangalore to New Delhi will be started.

When Nilekani’s turn came, he started with Kannada, but quickly switched to English. This prompted the BJP workers gathered in the hall to demand that he speak in Kannada. 

The disruption went on for nearly five minutes. The crowd calmed down only after Kumar requested them to remain cool, but he was interrupted twice.

Nilekani’s emphasis was on water to all, conservation of water and water resources, rainwater harvesting, rejuvenation of lakes, transport grid, power grid and integration of different modes of transport. He told the crowd, “I am a man who keeps his promises. We made a world class company (Infosys) and we will build our constituency too.”Ruth Manorama’s emphasis was on women’s safety, reservation for women and the rights of the SC/STs and the urban poor. 

Nina Nayak emphasised on the implementation of the 74th amendment of the constitution, which empowers local bodies, and focuses on the formation of ward committees. She said that the administration should go to the grassroots level. She said that Jan Lokpal would be her party’s priority. About the development of Bangalore, she said satellite towns should be established around Bangalore and they should be the engines of growth. There should be transparency in the utilisation of JnNURM funds, said Nayak.

Performance blamed

When the second round of discussions about the candidates’ plans to develop Bangalore started, Ananth Kumar blamed the present dispensation at the Centre for the poor economic performance. 

This triggered an outburst by the Congress workers sitting there. Due to commotion, the organisers winded up the programme midway. Later, Kumar sent a press release, accusing the Congress workers of disrupting the event.

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