ABIDe Convenor to quit, reforms stymied by cabinet

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Rajeev Chandrasekhar, convenor of the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe) committee, has sent a letter to the chief minister B S Yeddyurappa indicating that he has been left with no choice but to resign, Citizen Matters has learnt. Chandrasekhar, 44, is also a sitting Rajya Sabha MP (Independent), representing Karnataka and Bangalore Urban. He had won his seat with the support of the JD(S)-BJP combine in 2006.  He is also former president of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry).

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Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP (Independent) and Convenor of the ABIDe task force. Pic courtesy: www.rajeev.in

Chandrasekhar’s reasons for resigning have to do with the manner in which ABIDe’s reform proposals for Bengaluru governance are being handled at the state cabinet, notably by leading ministers R Ashoka (MLA, Padmanabhanagar) and Katta S Naidu (MLA, Hebbal). He has taken the position that if ABIDe’s major recommendations are not useful for the government, then there is no need for him to continue as convenor, highly placed sources told Citizen Matters.

Chandrasekhar’s letter, sent from his Rajya Sabha office in New Delhi has been delivered to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, chairman of ABIDe and H N Ananth Kumar (Lok Sabha MP, Bangalore South), national BJP leader who is vice-chairman. Chandrasekhar has said that he will follow up with his formal resignation letter when he returns after scheduled travel in two days.

Chandrasekhar declined comment on questions Citizen Matters asked about his impending resignation, until he returned to Bangalore on January 2nd. Responding via email, he noted, however,  that he remains “committed to ushering in reforms for city governance and building block elements to bring in a more responsive, transparent and citizen centric government – and thus giving all of us a city we can all be proud of as residents and stakeholders".

Ministers R Ashoka and Katta S Naidu are against some of the electoral/political reforms proposed by ABIDe for the city. One of the reforms is about electing members to ward committees from neighbourhood areas. Citizen Matters has already published two separate and exclusive interviews with Katta S Naidu (December 14th) and R Ashoka (December 21st) where they reacted to ABIDe’s proposals. The interview with Ashoka in particular brought the differences between ABIDe and the minister on ward committee elections squarely in the public eye.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar with chief minister B S Yeddyurappa at the launch of a rehabilitation housing
initiative in flood hit areas of North Karnataka in November. Pic courtesy: www.rajeev.in

Central to the difficulties ABIDe members say they have faced, is that the state government,  particularly Transport Minister R Ashoka,  is more interested in tweaks to the city’s administrative side and not the political side. The Bangalore Regional Governance Act – drafted by ABIDe member Dr A Ravindra — had both types of reforms in it. The bill is considered virtually dead by some ABIDe members, having been considered actively by a cabinet subcommittee for some time now, with no results to show.

While it is learnt that Chief Minister Yeddyurappa himself has no major opposition to the political reforms proposed in the bill, he wants a consensus among the Bangalore ministers for the reforms and appears unwilling to force his way.

With Chandrasekhar indicating that he will follow up with a formal resignation, the state government has a few days to respond, if it chooses to.

The status of ABIDe after the resignation of Chandrasekhar is not clear. The chief minister could ask another senior ABIDe member to take over as convenor. Also it is not clear at this time whether other members who have been pushing for various reforms through ABIDe will also continue or resign.
The quitting of Chandrasekhar will be another instance of task forces running aground.

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Addendum

January 20th 2010

In an e-mail interview with Citizen Matters, Rajeev Chandrasekhar confirmed that he is still with ABIDe and has withdrawn his resignation.

“He (Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa) has requested me to stay on and has committed that Government will in right earnest examine Plan Bengaluru 2020 and is open to examing the legislative, administrative, planning, financing and development plans that we have recommended”, he says.

Earlier, when asked why he had offered to resign, Chandrasekhar said, “…the question is about the ability and need of governments to seek and accept outside advise and inputs – Some governments are confident and thrive on these partnerships with civil society to the benefit of the community and city – some can’t or don’t want to. If the former is true, then people will be motivated to work and continue to work. If the latter is the case , there’s really no point in doing a lot of work and ending up frustrated. When I invested time, effort and money to be part of Abide (ABIDe) at the invitation of the Chief Minister, it was precisely to work with the system – to use advocacy and partnership to reform and transform the city. Being part of the system is always a more difficult process and leaves one open to criticism – but I did it anyway as did a number of us in Abide (ABIDe)”.

On January 14th, the ABIDe task force released Plan Bengaluru 2020, a vision document that is aimed at bringing back a city of Kempegowda’s dreams.

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About Subramaniam Vincent 24 Articles
Subramaniam Vincent is Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, Citizen Matters. His twitter handle is @subbuvincent.

2 Comments

  1. Really Sad! And Disgusting too to know that rank incompetence and stupidity so ably manifested through the likes of Ashoka and Katta win again. How long will the city be held ransom by these two numb-nuts?

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