B'luru MPs, vision only on paper?

There has been a deluge of evaluation of the one year performance of the Narendra Modi led NDA government. The opposition parties have called it a year of sloganeering and marketing gimmicks with absolutely no changes on the ground. On the other hand, verdict by experts and pundits have mostly been a mixed bag.

There have been several initiatives to revive the economy, bring in more FDI, control price rise, improve relations with neighbours and streamline governance that have been applauded by industry captains and citizens. Fringe elements in the BJP have kept the government on the tenterhooks and have diverted the attention from main issues that have caused major embarrassment to the party and the government. As for Bengaluru, there is total silence and absence of evaluation on the part of the MPs from the city.

The three Lok Sabha MPs along with the fourth one –  Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu – who also happens to be a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, merit no bouquets but deserve only brickbats. None of the initiatives promised in the BJP manifesto are on the anvil.

On the eve of the election and riding high on a Modi Wave, the BJP leaders of the city and state enlisted their priorities for a better and vibrant Bengaluru and assured the voters that if elected, they will be committed to delivering on their promises.

Dubbed as “Your Voice Our Manifesto”, a special eight page manifesto was released to the voters highlighting how the previous government mistreated and ignored the needs of the citizens while boasting of a vision to make Bengaluru on par with other international metros.

Unfortunately, felicitations and inaugurations of public events have kept our elected representatives busy during the first year in parliament. The MPs are yet to delineate a plan on how they propose to implement the 30-point commitment letter that was given to voters of Bengaluru during the election campaign.

First and foremost in the minds of voters is the promise of bringing in Rs 10,000 crore for improving the basic infrastructure of the city for its all round development. Cancelation of the JNNURM scheme by the new government has silenced the elected representatives. If they were to have delivered on their promise, the first tranche of Rs 4,000 crore would have been allocated to various projects conceived by the party in the first two budgets of the new government.

Instead, the city drew a blank while the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley chose to fund
Tumakuru for a smart city project. Bengaluru’s transportation needs are also devoid of new plans and funds. The BJP MPs promised to work towards making the city a prominent destination for bullet trains.

A monorail to connect the Kempegowda International Airport to the Metro Rail network and a local train service to connect the periphery of Bengaluru like Yelahanka, Nelamnagala, Devanahalli and KR Puram to ease traffic congestion were proposed.

Also on the agenda was a train corridor project to connect Bengaluru-Mysuru-Tumakuru-Chikkaballapur-Kolar-Bangarpet. None of these projects could make it to the first railway budget. All the former railway minister and current Law Minister Sadananda Gowda, who is the MP of North Bengaluru, provided was to make Byapanahalli, one of the stations in his constituency, a green one. And all that the Urban Development Minister Naidu could promise was the quick implementation of Metro Network.

Power woes

To tackle the power woes of the city, a dedicated power plant is to be established adjacent to the current one planned near Bidadi. On the education front, there was a promise to bring an Indian Institute of Technology and Kendriya Vidyalayas. On healthcare, an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was highlighted to the voters. For a secure Bengaluru, the BJP wanted to setup a NSG and disaster management units.

None of them has been funded in this year’s budget which means citizens have to wait for another year before their elected representatives can get to work to deliver on their electoral agenda. And if a start is not made next year, it is highly unlikely that Bengaluru will ever see any of the projects completed during NDA’s five year term.

Bengaluru which is responsible for more than 50 per cent of the state’s economic output, has slowly but surely started to decay. Businesses do not find it attractive anymore due to deplorable road conditions, inadequate power supply, limited water and sanitation facilities and poor administration.

Citizens are simmering in discontent due to appalling service delivery from local government and are forced to rely on private agencies for basic services at an exorbitant cost. To reverse this decline requires adequate funds and effective implementation. Our Bengaluru MPs would have failed in their duty if they do not bring Central assistance as promised to restore the vitality of the city and improve living conditions of all citizens.

(The writer is a Bengaluru-based money manager)

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