Why I would NEVER want to be the Mayor of Bengaluru

IF I WERE THE BENGALURU MAYOR

I was following the articles posted about Mayors of other cities outside of India, and how as Mayor of their city they could achieve a lot. Of course, the lingering question is, are we really comparing apples to apples? Does the Mayor in our country have the similar responsibility and authority like a Mayor in a Philadelphia OR New York City?

So here are my practical reasons why I would NEVER want to be Mayor of Bengaluru, it is almost as close or worse than being the Chief Minister of Delhi! There’s a saying in kannada, ಆಟಕ್ಕೆ ಉಂಟು ಲೆಕ್ಕಕ್ಕೆ ಇಲ್ಲ – roughly translated, it says counted for the game but not for the score.

Clothes

As Mayor of Bengaluru, one needs to wear these drab, black makhmal robes. And under that you need to wear your normal neta clothes, either reshme shirt/ kurta or the finest gaudiest reshme saree. It will be regular sweat fest that can beat any steam sauna you can get into!

Civic services/ agencies

Moving on! What are the civic services/ agencies that come under the Mayor’s ambit in the cities mentioned above? On the New York City’s website 135 agencies/ departments are listed for the citizen of the city. Similarly, on the website of City of Philadelphia, there are 104 agencies and departments listed that provide services to citizens. On the BBMP website we have 29 departments listed which include OFC (optical fibre cabling), TVCC – this has a CC TV camera as its icon and zero information on what this department does.

As a citizen I listed down the services that I need, and compared who delivers those services in Namma Bengaluru vis-à-vis the other 2 cities which are used as case-in-point.

Services/Agencies

Namma Bengaluru

New York City

City of Philadelphia

Public Transport

BMTC, BMRCL / State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Energy/ Electricity

BESCOM / State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Water and Sanitation

BWSSB / State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Police Department

State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Fire Department

State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Public Prosecutor

State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

City Planning Commission

State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Roads

Mayor’s Office … but of late, the Traffic Police are filling more potholes than BBMP

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Waste Management

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Parks & Recreation

Mayor’s Office

State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Lakes

Mayor’s Office, State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Health

BBMP / State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Education

BBMP / State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Land Records and Property Registration

State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Emergency Services – Ambulance

State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Infrastructure

Mostly State Government

Partly Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Industry/ Commerce Development

State Government

Mayor’s Office

Mayor’s Office

Out of the 17 services listed above, only a few services are unequivocally done by the City Council in Bengaluru. The rest are either fully OR mostly by the state government. As I was writing this, I read an article in the paper that spoke of a proposal to set up a Solid Waste Management Board on the lines of BESCOM/ BWSSB, effectively taking away the function from BBMP to the state government!

Political and executive angle

Becoming a councillor in the BBMP is:

  1. stepping stone to higher political aspirations
  2. managing the vote bank for the bigger fish in the food-chain, the MLAs and MPs
  3. all the above

While the Mayor and the councillors are representatives of the people, they have little or no power over the BBMP officials. The executive wing of the BBMP reports into the BBMP commissioner, an IAS bureaucrat appointed by the State Government. No guesses who the Commissioner takes orders from.

The elections to the councillors’ seats and the in-direct elections to the Mayor’s post have all the trappings of an election process in India. However, it is the playing or training ground for the politicians to test waters, check movements and strategies. As a city and the effect, it has on the city’s state of affairs, there is none.

To really make a difference, all the citizen services have to come under one authority. The amount of control the state government, state ministers, MLAs have over the city reduces the BBMP officials, members and Mayor to a tick box in our complex democracy.

Sources:

New York City Mayor’s office website: http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/agencies.page

City of Philadelphia Mayor’s office website: www.phila.gov/

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