Workers of the two national parties, the Congress and the BJP, appear to be less enthusiastic about the upcoming Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) elections.
Consider this: The ruling Congress has received only 950 applications seeking tickets to contest the polls for the 198 wards. The party had received 1,800 applications for the 2010 polls, though it was not in power in the State. The demand for tickets in the BJP is not as much as it was in 2010. The JD(S) has, however, claimed that it has received a large number of applications seeking tickets.
Sources in these parties are of the view that intense speculation of the elections getting postponed again is one of the reasons for workers shying away from the poll arena. It is also speculated that there could be another election within a few months, soon after the President of India gives his assent to the controversial bill – the Karnataka Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2015 – to restructure the Bengaluru municipal area. So, many workers have decided not to contest this time, the sources reasoned.
The sources said the possibility of Bengaluru witnessing another election was a reason for the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) decision not to contest the polls. The State Congress, too, has said it will pursue its agenda to restructure the municipal area.
Another reason cited for the parties receiving less number of applications is the implementation of 50 per cent reservation for women for the first time. There will be too many ticket aspirants for wards not reserved for women. It will be just the opposite for wards reserved for women. In reality, all the three political parties are struggling to find strong women candidates reserved for them. So much so that the parties are learnt to have been persuading some of the influential workers to field their wives as candidates.
Sources in the Congress said the party had actually received about 638 applications seeking tickets till July 31, the last date for submitting the applications. The party had sold about 1,600 applications by collecting Rs 10,000 as building fund from each applicant. Worried over the lukewarm response, the party later extended the date and collected more applications.
Though the BJP does not have a system of inviting applications seeking tickets, the aspirants are free to submit applications to the party. The BJP has received about 3,000 applications from the aspirants. In 2010, it had received 4,000 applications. The procedure followed in the party is that the aspirants have to submit applications to the ward president, who will, in turn, recommend the names to the party head of the assembly constituency. The JD(S) is learnt to have received about 700 applications.
Congress spokesperson Dinesh Gundu Rao said that unlike 2010, the elections were now being held at short notice. The number of aspirants would have been more had there been a proper build-up over the period. It appears that only serious contenders have applied now. Those who are not very keen on becoming corporators might have refrained from seeking tickets. Implementation of 50 per cent reservation is also a reason, he added.
Sachidanand, a senior BJP functionary, said the change of ward reservation and 50 per cent reservation for women might be the reason for less demand for tickets in the party. The State government’s repeated efforts to get the elections postponed have created an atmosphere of uncertainty, he added.