BBMP elections on 21 Feb, voting on a Sunday

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The long overdue city (BBMP) council elections have finally been announced by the State Election Commission (SEC). After a gap of three years with no council, Bengaluru will elect a council on February 21st 2010. The last elections to the BBMP took place way back in 2001.

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New dates for BBMP council elections.

The SEC announced the calendar of events wherein election code of conduct will come into force on January 15th. The notification will be issued on February 1st and last date for filing nomination papers is February 8th. The nominations will be reviewed the next day, February 9th. The last date for withdrawing nomination papers in February 11th, ten days after which elections will take place. On February 24th, counting will be done and results will be announced.

January 15th 2010 – Election code of conduct comes into force
February 1st 2010 – Notification will be issued
February 8th 2010 – Last date for filing nominations
February 9th 2010 – Scrutiny of nominations filed
February 11th 2010 – Last date for withdrawal of nominations
February 21st 2010 – Elections will be held from 7AM to 5PM
February 24th 2010 – Counting and announcement of results

Interestingly, February 21st falls on a Sunday, a general public holiday. Citizens groups are going to be happy with this, because a higher voter turnout is more likely.

This will also be the first time that Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) will be used for the city council elections. For this, the SEC has purchased 9500 EVMs.

The Karnataka High Court had earlier directed the state government to issue the ward reservations notification by November 30th. It had also asked the SEC to announce the election schedule by December 7th. The State government announced the ward reservations on November 30th.

The term of the erstwhile BMP ended in 2006. The BBMP was formed in 2007 with a total of 100 wards, seven CMCs, one TMC and 110 villages. In 2008, the government increased this to 147. In July this year it was further increased to 198. During this period, despite several orders from the High Court to hold elections, they were only further delayed. In 2006, Congress member and former Mayor P R Ramesh filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to the state government to hold elections. Petitions were also filed later this year challenging the ward reservations and delimitation of wards.

Eventually, on December 8th, a Division Bench of the High Court cleared the way for the SEC to hold the elections.

Dates for the elections have been set at a time when the state government’s cabinet subcommittee of Bengaluru’s ministers is still considering amendments to law to bring two key reforms: whether citizens could directly elect a mayor (as opposed to election in-council), extending the term of the mayor to five years from the current one-year, expanding powers of the mayor itself from the current ‘ceremonial role’ and finally on electing members for ward committees from the city’s neighbourhoods as opposed to discretionary nominations riddled with conflicts of interest.

Whether any of the reforms will go through the cabinet to the state assembly and be passed before January 15th, the SEC’s code of conduct cut-off date, remains to be seen. SEC’s determination of January 15th as elections code of conduct start date has itself not gone unnoticed. It has in effect, given the Yeddyurappa cabinet a small window of time to pass any reforms either regarding mayoral term of office, powers and manner of election.

• November 23rd 2006: The 5-year term of BMP ends without the holding of elections.

• January 16th 2007: The BBMP is officially formed by merging seven CMCs, one TMC and 110 villages with BMP.

• March 24th 2008: The Government publishes the draft notification of the new ward limits which has increased from 100 to 147.

• September 30th, 2008: The High Court orders contempt notice to State Government and SEC for failing to implement the High Court order to conduct elections within three months.

• November 10th 2008: High Court orders the State Government and SEC to conduct the BBMP elections before March 9th, 2009. (fours months)

• March 31st 2009: The High Court directs the Government and the SEC to hold the elections before the end of July. (4 months)

• July 2nd 2009: The High Court directs the State Government and SEC to conduct the BBMP Elections within three months.

• July 15th 2009: The State Government issues the final notification on the delimitation of wards which has increased from 147 to 198.

• September 17th 2009: High Court stays the ward reservation guidelines also asks for the calendar of events for elections by October 23.

• October 27th 2009: High Court criticises state government’s use of Assembly Constituency population data for use in ward reservation for SCs/STs and other communities and asks BBMP to provide ward level community population data.

• November 16th 2009: High Court asks state to announce reservation of wards by November 30 and SEC to announce election schedule by December 7

• November 30th  2009: State government releases the ward reservation list

• December 7th  2009: SEC announces election schedule

• December 8th  2009: High Court asks state to redo ward reservations and submit the same in two weeks

• December 9th  2009: High Court permits SEC to hold elections as per schedule

Mathew Prasad Idiculla

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About Vaishnavi Vittal 139 Articles
Vaishnavi Vittal is a Bangalore-based journalist.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the wonderful, timely and useful set of information. Chronology helps us to understand the background of the delay in the elections.

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