Winning civic polls a stepping stone to greater political success

Winning the civic elections in Bengaluru has launched the career of such political stalwarts as former chief minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah, former ministers Y Ramachandra, K M Nanjappa, S Suresh Kumar among others.

Hanumanthaiah, who is credited with building the iconic Vidhana Soudha, once said that a person who could win from Cottonpet in Bengaluru could manage any ministerial responsibility in the country. His prophecy did came true. Hanumanthaiah, who was a municipal councillor in Bengaluru in the pre-independence era, went on to become the second chief minister of Karnataka. He later become a Union minister and held prime portfolios such as railways and industries.

Since then, several noted names in State politics have started their political career by winning the civic polls in Bengaluru. N Keshava Iyengar, V S Krishna Iyer, T R Shamanna — known for their crusades as members of the city council — went on to become members of Parliament. The current flock of political leaders, including the present Transport Minister R Ramalinga Reddy, former ministers Ramachandra Gowda, Suresh Kumar and V Somanna, started their political careers in Bengaluru as corporators.

“It was a great learning experience. Being a corporator helped me understand the problems of the people,” recalled Reddy, who represented the Lakkasandra ward in the erstwhile Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) from 1983 to 88. He successfully contested the Assembly polls in 1989. Ever since, he has won every election he contested and is now serving his sixth consecutive term as legislator.

City cleaner, greener
Reddy recalled that Bengaluru was far cleaner and greener in the 1980s. “I spent just Rs 15,000 in 1983 when I contested the BCC elections. The entire sum came in the form of donations from my well-wishers. Being a corporator has moulded my career into what I am today,” he reflected.

Reddy, who was in the opposition in the BCC as the erstwhile Janata Party was the ruling dispensation, said that the debates in the Palike Council back then were comprehensive and of better quality. BJP leader and former minister Ramachandra Gowda entered electoral politics by becoming a corporator in Bengaluru in 1970 on a Jan Sangh ticket. “Those were the golden days. We used to take the elected representatives to task if there was maladministration in the City. Today, officials are targeted even though the onus of good governance is on the elected representatives,” Gowda said.

Gowda was elected to the BCC for a second term in 1983. He entered the Legislative Council in 1988 and remains a member of the Upper House. He was medical education minister in the Yeddyurappa Cabinet. Gowda said that his formative years in politics as a corporator were his most memorable days. Former law minister Suresh Kumar too started his political career as a corporator in 1983. “It was a springboard for my political growth,” he recalled. He said that debates in the BCC Council in those days centred on the common man and were qualitative. “We had some of the best mayors, commissioners and chief engineers. It was as a corporator that I got political exposure and social attitude,” he noted.

Kumar contested the BCC polls successfully again in 1990. Then, in 1994, he entered the Legislative Assembly and is presently serving his fourth term as legislator.
Besides Reddy and Kumar, sitting legislators, who served as corporators include S Raghu, K Gopalaiah, Munirathna and Byrathi Basavaraj.

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