Civic polls: Newbies look to bring fresh discourse to stale state of affairs

Citizen-first formula
Last Updated 30 July 2022, 23:50 IST
Srikanth Narasimhan, Co-founder and General secretary, BNP
Srikanth Narasimhan, Co-founder and General secretary, BNP
Ravikrishna Reddy, Founder, Karnataka Rashtra Samithi (KRS)
Ravikrishna Reddy, Founder, Karnataka Rashtra Samithi (KRS)
Mohan Dasarai, President, Bengaluru unit, AAP
Mohan Dasarai, President, Bengaluru unit, AAP

When the BBMP finally goes to polls in a few months, voters will be spoilt for choice as Bengaluru, known as the startup capital of India, will see many political start-ups testing base amid mainstream parties.

From a party that’s led by a firebrand politician to a party founded by a newbie after spearheading the Bangalore Apartments’ Federation, the elections may spring surprises.

Among the contenders are the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Karnataka Rashtra Samiti (KRS) and Bengaluru NavaNirmana Party (BNP), apart from the mainstream parties. These parties hope to win at least a few wards. The BBMP elections are likely to be held anytime between October and December.

One of the reasons for the entry of new parties is the high possibility of winning elections with limited resources unlike Assembly or Parliamentary polls.

As each of the 243 wards has an average of 38,000 voters, a candidate may need as less as 7,000 votes to win the contest, due to low voter turnout.

If it’s a triangular fight, the winning candidate may need just 4,000 votes.

Not a cakewalk

But the task is not so easy, even for mainstream parties as there are a number of aspirants who tend to contest as rebel candidates if they are denied tickets.

Fewer than 15 corporators are elected twice or thrice in a row.

Unlike Assembly or Parliamentary polls, the reservation category of wards (SC/ST, OBC and women) is changed for every election. So, the sitting corporator may or may not get a chance to contest from the same ward again.

Such is the competition that former corporators who previously won as independent candidates make their best efforts to get a ticket to contest from BJP, Congress or even JD(S) as these parties have their own voter base.

“It’s not easy to fight as an independent,” said Lakshminarayan G, a former corporator of Domlur, as he hopes to get a ticket either from BJP or Congress. He had independently defeated the Congress candidate by 2,314 votes in the last polls.”

The BJP may find it difficult to accommodate former corporators who are supporters of former Congress leaders (now with the BJP) such as S T Somashekar, Byrathi Basavaraj and Munirathna N, as the saffron party has its own set of aspirants.

A BJP leader said they plan to follow a 50:50 ratio to bring down disgruntlement.

BTM Layout MLA Ramalinga Reddy has been tasked with preparing the Congress for the elections.

Karnataka Rashtra Samiti

Founded in August 2019 by anti-corruption crusader Ravi Krishna Reddy, KRS is well-known in government and political circles.

Reddy’s activism for good governance has earned him many followers.

On social media, Reddy and his team take government and police officials to task for not doing their job honestly/efficiently.

Ahead of the civic elections, the party has entered into a pre-poll alliance with JD(U) and Welfare Party of India. It plans to contest all 243 wards.

“The three mainstream parties come to power by bribing poor voters. During campaign, we plan to unearth illegal practices of these parties,” Reddy said.

Aam Aadmi Party

The AAP will contest the polls for the first time. It is yet to taste electoral success in Bengaluru. The party has already created a network of volunteers in every polling booth limit, besides appointing office-bearers in every Assembly constituency.

“Voters should stop expecting corruption-free governance from Congress, BJP or JD(S). When leaders like D K Shivakumar or S R Vishwanath have their own schools, why will they develop government schools?” asked Mohan Dasari, president of AAP’s Bengaluru unit. Besides giving more powers to citizens by decentralizing administration, the party plans to give free electricity up to 300 units a month, free water supply up to 21,000 litres a month and free bus transport for women.

“In Bengaluru, there has never been a shortage of funds to build good roads or world-class hospitals or schools. What is lacking is good intent,” he said.

Bengaluru NavaNirmana Party

The BNP, founded in September 2019, is a new-age party made up of a diverse set of individuals such as civic activists, professionals from various fields, entrepreneurs, homemakers and students, all united by the desire to help revive the city’s former glory.

The party has no ambition beyond Bengaluru and none of its founders is a politician. Unlike other parties, BNP is founded by residents of Bengaluru.

It aims to bring good grassroots governance through citizen participation, accountability and transparency by implementing measures such as area sabhas, ward committees, ward website and project monitoring.

“What we have seen so far is complete misgovernance. Corporators, instead of doing their job, are known for preventing what good citizens do,” said Srikanth Narasimhan, general secretary of the party.

(Published 30 July 2022, 19:11 IST)

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