Who is running at the June 10th Bengaluru graduate constituency election for a seat in Karnataka's legislative council? Here is a quick run down.
Gowda and his supporters say that his best work was solving teachers’ problems during the SM Krishna government (1999-2004). “As office bearer in associations, I got government to increase promotion rate, salaries and medical allowances of teachers. I also helped schools get grants,” says Gowda.
He says that if elected, he will focus more on graduates’ problems. “There are MLAs and corporators to look after general issues. This is graduates’ constituency, so I will focus on graduates’ unemployment issues, teachers’ problems on salary scale disparity, low salary in unaided schools etc. Retired government employees also face issues of pension and benefits,” he says.
On water scarcity and city’s growth, Gowda says that migration into the city should be controlled. “Sub-cities should be developed in Kanakpura, Magadi, Nelamangala etc. Other district headquarters should also be improved so that growth is evenly distributed.”
ABIDe member Ashwin Mahesh is contesting as Lok Satta party’s candidate. Mahesh was elected as candidate through a preliminary election within the party. He has been the only candidate to have public campaigns and endorsements, while other candidates have been campaigning in select organisations. He is also campaigning strongly with the IT community, where there is better reception for reform politics, and uses social media, unlike other candidates.
Ashwin Mahesh with supporters. On his left: Mohandas Pai, former Director at tech major, Infosys. Right: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson of bio-pharmaceutical major Biocon. Pic: Navya P K.
Mahesh has a degree in physics, MBA, MS (Master of Science) in astronomy and Ph.D in geophysics. Having worked in NASA in US for six years, Mahesh returned to Bangalore in 2005. He has since worked with government agencies to improve governance and infrastructure.
Currently he is Urban Strategy Advisor to state government and Special Advisor to BMTC. He is associated with introducing BIG-10 bus system in the city. He is also part of six state government committees including BBMP’s Technical Advisory Committee. He is also a researcher at Centre for Public Policy in IIM-B.
He has also founded social technology company Mapunity and is co-founder and editor of national affairs e-magazine India Together. He has worked with India Against Corruption (IAC) movement for introduction of Jan Lokpal Bill.
Mahesh has been campaigning with the agenda of increasing citizen participation in governance. He says that there is a ‘new India’ that directly engages with public problems because it has the economic means, along with tools like social media, to do this. “New India does not mean urban Bangalore alone. We saw this group rise during the IAC movement,” says Mahesh. He says there is sufficient number of ‘new Indians’ to vote for the change in governance that he and Lok Satta advocates.
Mahesh says that, if elected, he will push for proper implementation of Community Participation law and for Bangalore Metropolitan Regional Governance Bill (both of which promote citizen participation) to be tabled in both houses. “I will push for community-management for lakes. I will maintain a public record of all my votes in the Council and will try to blog about my work so that citizens can see the policy-making and implementation process.”
About the city’s water crisis, he says that this is due to three follies - not tapping local lakes for supply, not pricing BWSSB water properly, and not tackling the water mafia. “I will push for a regulator for the water sector, similar to power. I would push for pricing of borewells according to water extracted, for adoption of dual piping in all new communities, and for a proper set of water reuse guidelines,” he says.
A Kannada journalist for the last 23 years, Nagalaxmi Bai, is contesting as an independent. Most recently she was known for filing a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) against Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda for illegal use of his BDA-allotted plot in HSR Layout.
Nagalaxmi, 50, says that she decided to contest as an independent as no political party is free from corruption. She has also filed a PIL on BBMP’s misappropriation of Rs 1539 cr from three wards that was revealed last year; her team has also filed a case in Lokayukta against Home and Transport Minister R Ashoka alleging illegal denotification of land.
Nagalaxmi is a postgraduate in Economics, graduate in law, and has a diploma in journalism. She has worked with organisations like Prajavani and Doordarshan, and is currently Chief Reporter at a news agency Kannada Suddi Samsthe. She has authored five books with subjects ranging from corruption to female foeticide. She has also been member of Central Film Certification Board.
Nagalaxmi Bai. Pic: Navya P K
Not worried about being an independent, Nagalaxmi says that Ramachandra Gowda is her only competition. “I have been working with grassroot population for long, and fighting against social ills and corrupt politicians despite threats. I have a clean record. I have been active in media and people know me,” she says.
Nagalaxmi is taking a different line from Ramoji Gowda (Congress) and Deve Gowda (JD(S)) who are campaigning with teachers. She has been campaigning strongly in rural areas of the constituency and says that she will work for graduates from these areas and from other districts. “Many graduates in the city are from city outskirts and other districts of Karnataka. Rural graduates would have mostly studied in government schools, and have difficulty competing here, especially for IT/BT jobs. I will focus on education and employment of these sections, along with salary problems faced by teachers,” she says.
She says that she will also focus on women’s issues such as lack of safety, discrimination and female foeticide. “Women are expected to compromise for family and are harassed otherwise. Awareness should be raised on this, and counselling given in such cases. Women should be encouraged to contribute to society.”
Regarding water crisis, Nagalaxmi says that use of BWSSB water for private building construction should be stopped. “There is too much migration, so MNCs should go to smaller towns. We do not need IT/BT companies, they do not cater to local people in need”, she says. ⊕
The CPI(M) candidate is K S Lakshmi, 41, a post graduate in Economics from Bangalore University. She is state General Secretary of CPI(M)’s women’s wing AIDWA (All India Democratic Women’s Association). She has been a senate member of Bangalore University and state President of SFI (Students Federation of India) before. She was endorsed by CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat in April.
Lakshmi says that she might have enrolled around 13,000 new voters - she and the party’s 20 teams meet graduates. “We have had constraints as a big budget is needed for campaigning. Election Commission itself should get graduates enrolled, and distribute information on candidates,” she says. She says that the impact of globalisation is visible - “Education is too costly, there are no salary hikes or job security, suicide rates and gender discrimination is high - these are common people’s issues, and I have been campaigning on these.”
* Article corrected June 14th 2012. Deve Gowda was incorrectedly reported as the JD(S) candidate in the 2006 MLC election. He had contested from the Congress party.