Meet a proactive politician

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It was a dull and cloudy afternoon when I was on my way to Jayanagar to meet first-time MLA B.N.Vijaykumar (BJP). I was not too excited about the interview as, like most of us, I was quite sure of getting long winded answers for simple questions. The first impression, as I entered the spic and span office, though, came as a surprise. I expected piles of folders and paper lying on the tables but I was astonished to see this almost paperless office with an executive constantly working on the computer.

The grey haired bachelor in his late forties welcomed me with a wide smile.

Vijaykumar did his primary schooling from the Vimanapura School in Marathahalli. His high school was RV High School in Jayanagar. He passed his PUC in 1976 and his diploma in engineering in 1979. He later graduated with a Civil Engineering degree from BMS College (1986-90).

Here are a few excerpts from my tête-à-tête with Vijaykumar, the man who wants to see himself as a very good legislator in the next 20 years. He dreams of seeing the city as a peaceful, beautiful place with the best infrastructure.

AS a first-time MLA, how has been this term for you so far?

Jayanagar was under the same MLA for almost 20 years (Ramalinga Reddy, Cong) and it is seeing a sea change this time. To be an MLA is a tough job; challenging but also encouraging. The response I get from the people overwhelms me.

What has been your plan of action?

My first priority was to meet the public and learn about their problems. I and my associates go to every Resident Welfare Association (RWA) in Jayanagar for their meetings. Now I know almost all the RWAs in Jayanagar and I also know their problems. They approach me without hesitation.

Within a month of elections a new office was opened for the people where they can come with complaints. I am available from 8.30 in the morning and when I am not in office I have at least two of my officers always there to meet people. I give my personal mobile number to everyone and I myself attend all the calls. Anyone can call me with complaints and suggestions.

Do you think your Engineering degree helps you in your work?

Most of the work is related to engineering. From power supply lines to construction of parks to road works everything is related to engineering. My educational background helps me understand the issues and I am able to talk to engineers properly. I can also give them suggestions when required. In fact I have noticed that even the engineers feel comfortable in talking to me because I am able to understand what they are saying.

How have your past experiences in social work and campaigning helped you?

Yes, of course. That has helped me relate to the ground realities. In fact that is one of the main reasons behind starting the Abhivruddhi programme. I started this programme for my constituency to help people understand the development projects of the city better. Under this programme, we invite 100-150 citizens (including members of RWAs and some senior active residents) for meetings, and have senior officials from the BBMP, BDA etc to interact with them. Till now we have had three such meetings.

In our first meeting we called the Managing Director of Namma Metro project and he explained the whole project to the citizens and responded to all their queries. After that we had invited Vasantha Rao, a senior revenue officer from the BBMP to explain the recent property tax calculations to people. This meeting was attended by 250 people even though we had invited only around 100 people. It was a great interactive session. All the meetings so far have been conducted at the JSS auditorium in Jayanagar.

Can you tell us about some of the recent measures you have undertaken to alleviate the problems of citizens?

There are many things that I am planning to do and there are many things that I have already done. For example I recently received a complaint from commuters from JP Nagar that a bridge construction that was going on from a long time had blocked the main road connecting Puttenahalli and JP Nagar, causing trouble. I went to visit the site and transport minister R Ashoka also accompanied me.

The bridge was supposed to have been completed by at least 80 per cent by now according to the plan, but on the site it was not even 20 per cent done. An Andhra Pradesh based engineering company was doing the work which had further outsourced it to a private contractor who is not fully equipped to undertake this construction. I could see that the contractor was totally incompetent and would not be able to finish this work ever. I had requested the Chief Minister to come but he sent transport minister R Ashoka to visit the site. The minister has given them a deadline of 10th February to complete 80 per cent of the work, and 30th June for total completion. But I am sure they will not be able to meet the deadlines because they are incompetent. They neither have enough workers nor equipments to finish this work

How far has the information collection process reached? What are you planning after you get the data? (In December last year Vijaykumar had distributed pamphlets in his constituency to know from the people about government land being misused either by way of encroachments or land used to dump garbage.)

I have received more than 100 complaints from the people and they are still pouring in. I will ask the BDA, BWSSB and BBMP to take action. Either they should use this land for a really useful purpose or at least get it fenced and stop it from becoming a useless place. Most of them are encroachment cases and the respective bodies need to take immediate action.

What is your opinion on CVS, and indiscriminate tree cutting in the name of development and the Metro?

I am totally against tree cutting, but I feel that the Metro will surely bring lots of benefits and will solve a major portion of traffic issue. Some tree cutting for this is necessary, but rampant tree cutting under the name of road widening is not right. I am glad that the SAS was retained and the 20% increase was not done for property tax calculations. Organisations like Citizen Action Forum are working hard to find relevant solutions to such problems and the BBMP should consider their suggestions.

What do you think of the Lalbagh Bill?

There was an earlier notice too for this Lalbagh metro construction. Lalbagh would have been saved if the earlier format of underground metro was followed but now it looks difficult. We are asking the Metro team to give a clear picture of the whole thing. At the most, some part of the entrance of the Lalbagh might get destroyed.

The IV Block Jayanagar Shopping Complex is having a power supply issue for a long time now. The shopkeepers say that the MLA knows about the problem but he isn’t inclined enough to do anything about it. What do you have to say about this? It is a problem they are facing for more than three decades now.

Oh, no-one ever came and complained to me! I will surely look into it. I already have some plans for this shopping complex, and I am sure it will solve the power problem too. We are planning to demolish half the portion of the complex and make it into an eight to ten storey building. All the shopkeepers will be moved there and will be given the same facilities as they are getting now. The other half will be used for parking. This will make the shopping complex a more spacious and convenient market place.

Are there any more developmental plans you are working on and would like people to know?

There are many in the line, like:

The Puttanna Kanagal theatre in Jayanagar is now almost in a dilapidated state. There are plans to renovate it and make it into a multi storeyed building which will of course have a floor dedicate totally for the theatre. The plans for the rest of the floors or how many floors will it have are yet to be finalised.

There are plans to make the Jayanagar General Hospital into a super specialty hospital and also expand it. This hospital will cater mainly to the middle and the lower middle class sections. I have already had a few visits to the hospital and the plan for expansion is also getting concrete. I went there with a team from the IIM-B and the CEO and Director of Manipal Hospitals for their expert advice. Work will start in under a month. This project will cost around 10 crores. We are planning to train/upgrade? the hospital management too to help in proper maintenance.

We are also thinking of upgrading the Jayanagar Stadium and make it on par with national stadia. I do not find any other stadium after the Kanteerava Stadium that is good enough to for children to practice, so I want to upgrade this one.

We are also suggesting a public e-library in Jayanagar (a library where book collections are stored in digital format. They can be stored in that particular library or accessed through a network of computers). I have met a lot of students who either cannot afford to buy a new book or do not know where to go when they need a book. This library will be their answer. This e-library will also be helping people who do have access to such amenities otherwise. It will certainly help them even understand at least a little bit about the technology.

I have in my plans a scope for at least eight to ten playgrounds. I do not mean parks but playgrounds for children. I have noticed that with numerous parks coming up in all localities there are hardly any playgrounds for the children to go and play. Some parks though have a small play area but it is only for kids below 10 years. Thus children above that have nowhere to go and have to play on the roads.

Also I am looking forward to more places for rainwater harvesting. I have already marked two-three parks for remodeling and rainwater harvesting will be done there. I am taking help of Dr Shivkumar from IISc for this project.

Once these projects are done I am aiming for bigger Storm water drainsbut this will probably be in my next year’s agenda.

What is your reaction to the innumerable media reports praising your initiatives?

I do not think I am doing anything extra. I am only doing what I had promised during my election campaign. I am now trying to keep my promise.

Profile of B.N Vijaykumar:

Vijaykumar did his primary schooling from the Vimanapura School in Marathahalli. His high school was RV High School in Jayanagar. He passed his PUC in 1976 and his diploma in engineering in 1979. He later graduated with a Civil Engineering degree from BMS College (1986-90).

Meanwhile, from 1979-81 he had been working with Buildmat Private Limited, a construction company. He worked with them on various contracts of construction sites. After this he went ahead to work with Gammon India Private Limited for a few years and then he was working on contract basis in various cities like Ranchi, Guwahati and Vijaywada. All these jobs were industrial contracts, cement plants works and so on.

After working for long on the industrial side of construction, he started working on residential buildings too, while he was pursuing his engineering in 1986. In 1994 he moved on to politics.

“I came to politics because it is more like a form of social work for me. I was always inclined towards social work even when I was busy on construction sites,” explains Vijaykumar.

VIjaykumar joined the ABVP (Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad) during his graduation days. Later, he joined the Bhartiya Janta Party in 1994 and served as the General Secretary of the party in Bangalore for 12 years. He was also the president of BJP’s Bangalore unit for one year. In the May 2008 state assembly elections, he contested from the Jayanagar constituency and won with 48.43% votes while the runner up, M Suresh of INC, got 23.08% votes.

Vijaykumar is also part of the Assurance Committee of the Karnataka government, along with 15 others including Dinesh Gundu Rao, Congress MLA from Gandhinagar. This committee looks into all the promises that the government has made during the election campaign and sees to it that these are met. In the past he has been actively involved with a number of non-profit organisations helping the needy (like Sahasi, an organisation that encourages youngsters to pursue careers in sports and helps them achieve their dreams, and Shristi, an NGO for Animal Welfare). He also runs a school called Bhai Prashanthi Education Society along with like-minded people in Byresandra village for standards 1 to 7. The School has a strength of 300. Vijaykumar also has in the past been actively involved in campaigning for social causes, like working with AWARE, an NGO to get the RTI Act working.

While this first time MLA invests most of his time in serving people he also finds time to indulge in reading. He loves historical books and biographies. “I don’t read romantic novels,” he adds. To my surprise, Vijaykumar turned out to be an avid biker as well. “Driving the motor bike was my passion. I loved biking. I do not do it anymore but I still love driving and make sure that I myself drive my car most of the times,” he says.

Vijaykumar gets nostalgic when recalls days when he used to enjoy driving on MG Road and JC Road in the past. “Now the NICE road is a nice drive,” he adds. Vijaykumar is also a travel enthusiast and claims that he has travelled almost the whole of India. “There is hardly any place I haven’t seen- from Srinagar to Kanyakumari and Imphal to Ballarshah; I have even been to Andamans…,”his list goes on. He regrets that he hasn’t been travelling enough in the past year and hopes to do so whenever he can.

Vijaykumar’s hobbies don’t end here. A sportsman since childhood he enjoys sports even now. “I love paragliding, parasailing and trekking. I have even taken youngsters for such trips earlier. Now I don’t get enough time,” he explains.


7 Comments

  1. Nice interview,I happened to meet him last two weeks back. What has been mentioned is perfectly right. He is proactive & down to earth person. We few residents from LIC colony Jayanagar were facing drinking water problem & was resolved immediately by him.
    But lethargic BWSSB staff are still not able to give supply to the residents on alternate basis.
    We are thinking to meet MLA Vijayakumar again in this regard.

  2. Thanks for the info, Supriya. Appreciate it. I know a few folks outside of Bangalore who are waiting for CitizenMatters to expand their footprint. 🙂

    This is an extremely useful and wonderful site. Awesome job.

    Quick question: Any chance of adding podcasts to your offerings? Would love to listen to your content on the go.

  3. Hello Mrs Ashrafa,
    Sorry for the delay in replying. Of what I could find out the MLA for your area should be Ramalinga Reddy(Cong). His constituency is BTM and your area is included in it.
    (I will like if anyone can correct me if I am wrong.)
    Supriya

  4. Dear Supriya,
    You replied to Rahul. Please reply to my query of finding the MLA in my constituency. READ MY COMMENT OF 3rd FEB. Thanks Ashrafa Sattar

  5. Dear Supriya,
    Thankyou for the interview and info aboutShri B.N. Vijaykumar MLA Jayanagar.
    Could you help me find the MLA of my constituency? I live on Bannerghatta Rd at Kalena Agrahara Village, 1 km past Meenakshi Temple on the same side as the temple. I have been actively involved in saving the Kalena Agrahara Lake/ Tank since 1996, but now encroachment & garbage issues have gone beyond control & efforts with BBMP Commissioner and local officials have been in vain and if immediate action is not taken soon the lake will be no more.
    Please help!
    Mrs Ashrafa Sattar

  6. Very nice interview. Thanks, Surpriya. Is there any chance that you can publish his office’s address here as well? That would be really helpful.

Comments are closed.