On August 17th, the candidates from BJP, Congress, JDS and Loksatta came together at a candidate meetup organised by Namma Bengaluru Foundation. They spoke about the formation of ward committees, their priorities for their ward, and the future of Bengaluru's growth. Read the transcript of the debate here.

Candidates:

  • INC: N Chuchendra Kumar

  • BJP: Sangathi Venkatesh

  • JDS: Shivaramegowda

  • Loksatta: Rohit Simha

Venue: Sri Vinayaka Party Hall, Katriguppe Main Road

Moderators: Sridhar Pabbisetty and Prakash Belawadi

Prakash Belawadi summarised the state of affairs within BBMP and the city. He set the context for questions in the first session:

  • BBMP is indebted to contractors, many haven't been paid for the work done in the last 2-3 years, BBMP owes them about 2-3 crores. We are forced to go to the state and central government for funds.

  • Authorities and responsibilities are not clear. Nobody can be held accountable or responsible. MP and MLAs point us to corporators but a corporator has no powers.

  • Budget expenses are not transparent. Why is a ward allocated a certain budget? How is it spent? Is there public consent to projects undertaken? We are unsure who to approach with these questions.

  • Too many vehicles on the road. How much more can we widen roads? Where will people walk if we continue to widen them? Increases in number of accidents, pollution.

  • We need to constantly question leaders/people in power and that's the only way there will improvement and changes will happen.

How was Bangalore? What has become of it? What problems? How does it concern your ward and how will you resolve these issues?

JDS: Whatever projects/development have not been completed, we will take it up and complete it. And we will also listen to problems that people currently have and work towards resolving them, like drainage issues, mosquitoes, roads. Basic amenities in Katriguppe ward are poor. No government hospitals. More parks for children. If I win, I will include members from all parties and build an effective ward committee that will give importance to public hearing and consensus. Senior citizens who are active citizens and are aware of politics will also be a part of the ward committee. Install CCTVs in places to curb chain snatching. We have good parks, but they need to be maintained.

INC: There are issues across all sectors, roads, toilets, water etc . We will try as much to address as many of these issues.

(To BJP) First time BJP's rule. What has transpired in these 5 years, has it been as per what you envisioned for Bengaluru? What lessons have you learnt in these 5 years of rule? If you come into power what will weigh out as most important from your experience?

Under Congress rule, funds to BJP reduced, so we haven't been able to perform as well as we did while under BJP's rule. To resolve complex problems like garbage problems, both the state and the central government should work together.

(To Loksatta) Party rule is becoming inherited. But yours is a young party, what is your vision for Bengaluru?

Bangalore is growing irrationally. We need a limited, well-defined boundary for Bangalore. BBMP funds/rule is becoming party-dependent. BBMP is important for Bangalore, BBMP only takes care of Bangalore. Out of 67% we generate, we are only given 10% in return. We need to look for different sources for funds. There needs to be coordination between parastatals. This will save a lot of public money being spent. Alternatives to commute to resolve traffic issues. We need to look beyond the sewage and road problems in Bangalore. We need a blueprint that has a vision statement for Bangalore for 5 years.

Five changes that you will make or five issues you will address.

Loksatta:

    • Governance by people
    • Ward committee meeting once in 3 months for review and appraisal
    • Footpaths infrastructure to be improved
    • Maintain Parks
    • Mosquitoes (dengue, malaria). Install mosquito killing system (Rs 1 lakh) wherever required. It works over a radius of 1km.
    • Plastic and synthetic all-weather, durable roads. Install concave mirrors on roadsides to avoid accidents.

Congress:

    • RWAs, public consent
    • Hygiene and mandate segregation of waste at household
    • Health. Government hospital. Caring for senior citizens.
    • Strengthen ward committee by including members from all parties.
    • Tender related information to be transparent and make this information more easily available to public (rather than expect people to file RTIs).
    • Engineering works should use good quality materials. This needs to be checked and supervised.
    • Parks for children.
    • Identify and encourage local talents for art and cultural programs within the ward.
    • Single window complaint system to make it easy for public to file complaints.

BJP:

    • Education and sports should be given equal importance.
    • We have already established spaces for senior citizens in parks for physical exercises.
    • Roads and footpaths will be fixed.
    • Rodent problems will be addressed.

JDS:

    • Safe roads.
    • Water supply problems.
    • Sewage and drainage problems.
    • Mosquito control.
    • Street lights.
    • Police protection.
    • Improve parks for use by senior citizens.
    • Identify and encourage local talent.

Audience questions and concerns:

  • Why is it that ward committees have only party workers and supporters as its members? They should be unbiased and should include local residents.
  • Roads in Cauvery Nagar are narrow but still people park their cars on the roads and even footpaths. How will you stop this from happening?
  • Budget was sanctioned to improve a layout in the ward but no work has been done here. What happened to the allocated fund?
  • We need a vegetable vendor zone allocated for vendors to free up the footpath space they occupy.
  • Despite increased property tax BBMP is in debt. Why? Earlier even with low tax revenue BBMP was self-sufficient.
  • How will you resolve traffic? Widening of roads and improving road conditions is not helping. Too much traffic during peak hours. How will you control this?
  • There is no space in our area, how will you make space available for a hospital and playground? (This was directed towards Congress candidate who promised playground and hospital).
  • How will you ensure that every single person comes and exercises the ballot? This is most important since most working educated people who can voice their opinions and fight for issues do not even bother to vote.
  • Veto power that the corporator holds makes it difficult for members of ward committee to get work done. Corporators power to veto should be withdrawn

Will you give up your veto power to ward committee?

Loksatta: Yes.

Congress: Yes.

BJP: Yes.

JDS: Yes. Ward committee will be formed by people who are retired from public service sectors/social workers.

Will you make a list of all public spaces that have been encroached and make this public and use it for public welfare?

JDS: Yes. We will work for the welfare of the ward residents.

BJP: Yes.Congress: Will definitely investigate into this matter along with people who are aware of the corruption. I will ensure this is looked into. Loksatta: Will make a list of existing and encroached land and have the ward committee supervise this issue.

How will you curb corruption? BBMP funds deficit?

JDS: We need educated people to rule and be in power. That will check corruption. Tax the rich and subsidise amenities for poor.BJP: Collection of tax should be localised to ward. What is collected at the ward level should remain and be spent within the ward.

Congress: Transparency of tenders. Public consent for infrastructural works undertaken.Loksatta: Information regarding funds allocated to corporator, tax generated from wards, funds from other sources, tenders and development works undertaken and funds claimed for them. Social auditing of every projects undertaken by BBMP.

Should BBMP be split?

JDS: No.

BJP: No.

INC: We need to correct the wrong perception of BBMP as being split. This is not dividing BBMP, it is decentralisation of powers, it is distributed rule ("Vibhajane alla, idhu "adhikaara vikendrikarana"). The idea of restructuring BBMP is being misinterpreted and perceived wrongly by the public. We are only trying to make ruling of a large city easier by duplicating the system which will work effectively in smaller sections.

Loksatta: One president, one CM, one Mayor. We don't need to spend public money on five mayors. BBMP should not be restructured.

Should Akrama Sakrama be implemented?

JDS: Yes. Conditional.

BJP: Yes.

INC: Yes. Conditional.

Loksatta: No.

Who should undertake the project Akrama Sakrama if it comes into enforcement ? Should it be under BBMP or an independent body?

JDS: Should be under BBMP but should be considerate to poor people.

BJP: BBMP

INC: Independent body

Loksatta: Neutral body

Mayor term and elected directly or through council?

JDS: Council. 2 years

BJP: Council. 20 months

INC: Direct election. 5 years.

Loksatta: It doesn't matter to me if the mayor is directly elected or through council. The mayor should have a 5 year term.

Campaign expenditure?

JDS: Not spending any money. Only about 2 to 3 lakhs.

BJP: About 2 to 3 lakhs

INC: 2 to 3 lakhs

Loksatta: Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 INR 

Disclaimer: This is an edited version of the minutes of the meeting sent by NBF. Citizen Matters' staff were not present during the debate.