Sitting MP Mohan disarmed by newbie candidates

The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan premises in the heart of Bengaluru looked like a fortress on Sunday, April 6 2014. While cops were on vigil and the main gate was closed to unauthorised people, a team of volunteers was busy verifying the entrants with the RSVP list.

After the Bangalore South candidate meet fiasco which was hijacked by language debate, Bangalore Political Action Committee (BPAC) became extra-cautious on who should be let in. Even the seating was properly arranged, with volunteers guiding people where to sit depending upon who they were. This did not go well with all. Some TV reporters were seen grumbling, as they had to show their identity card.

The programme started at 10.10 am, when all the candidates arrived. Many luminaries and several of the who’s who from the arts and culture field were present at the hall. Jairaj, the secretary of BPAC, started the interaction session by shooting the first question.

Candidates from major parties posing together before the debate. Pic: Shree D N

Why do they consider themselves as good candidates?

V Balakrishnan (AAP)

I have no legacy to defend. We need new perspective, fresh thinking. Now the governance is dominated by too many vested interests at play. We aim to bring in the Swaraj model in local governance and spending. Social audit is important. If a politician asks people what they want problem is solved – the money will be well-spent. Mayor should take ownership of the city. This is what I aim for. If you need change you have to vote for us.

P C Mohan in a defensive mood. Pic: Shree D N

P C Mohan (BJP)

I have played a role in completing Metro Reach 1 and Reach 3. I have brought 500 MLD of water to Bangalore. To control traffic, I have introduced more KSRTC buses using JNNURM funds. I have taken initiatives to see that the city railway station is upgraded to international standards.

Nandini Alva (JDS)

I am a daughter of the city. I am concerned and upset about the situation. As a woman representative, I have decided to contest. I will concentrate on water – the situation is alarming and serious. Arkavathi is dry. There are not enough reservoirs for water. A comprehensive water plan — storage, conservation and recycling — is needed. Power is the next problem. We need a dedicated power plant to generate 2300 MW. Power transport and distribution issues need to be addressed. Garbage is another issue to be solved. Vocational training and job creation will also be on my focus.

Rizwan Arshad (INC)

I’m not prepared to give a long answer on why I should contest. I’m a common man, youngster, and want to address the issues that youngsters face. Traffic, footpaths, garbage etc need to be solved. As an MP, I would have a two-pronged approach: To coordinate between different agencies.

Bangalore is competing with London, Boston as global cities. I don’t want to sit doing a corporator’s job. We need a strong voice that pushes Bangalore as a city that competes with Boston – I will be the most vocal voice in the parliament.

Nandini Alva Pic: Shree D N

What important issues have you identified and how will you resolve these if you become MP?

P C Mohan (BJP)

Traffic is the biggest problem. I have proposed suburban trains to handle traffic. I will work to bring gas-based power plants at Bidadi. I have also proposed a coordination committee between BMTC, Metro and railway to have feeder systems.

Regarding Solid Waste Management, I propose to revive the 8 MW power plant at Mandur to handle garbage disposal. I will plan to develop small scale industries to generate employment

In the field of education, I will bring more Kendriya Vidyalaya-like and CBSE schools to Bangalore. I will also focus on treated water to be left in lakes to increase ground water table.

Nandini Alva (JDS):

We have many resources from over 350 schemes from Centre. But we lack political will to bring funds to Bangalore. Over 45% of the population is living in pathetic conditions. A comprehensive plan that includes everybody is required. Now there is so much funds that the Centre is giving, but the governments are not able to bring funding from the union government. We lack transparency and political will. There is Rs 126,000 crores in National Skill Development Corporation but we haven’t brought even 10 crores to Bangalore out of this. If I can be an organiser and leader in my party, if my temperament is like that of a watch dog, I will be able to get the things done. It is team work, starting from grassroots. Women empowerment, small industries are to be focussed on. Malnutrition should be countered, microfinance and cooperative banking are to be focussed on.

Rizwan Arshad (INC):

Bangalore Central is a constituency with diverse demographics and diversity. We cannot have a uniform approach towards it. I want a vision group for Bangalore Central. Citizens can participate, give ideas, use expertise. I would like to create a “by the people for the people” platform.

V Balakrishnan (AAP):

Whitefield has so many borewells but no water. How long will bore wells give water if there is no water recharge? How long can we keep bringing water? We need to plan for future. Tender scams should not start. Each MP gets 5 crore. But people have no say on how he spends it. I will create such an opportunity that can help people participate in deciding how to spend it.

BBMP is bankrupt. Because extra money is spent on roads and unwanted programmes. A good road requires only Rs 2 crore per km.  Lake encroachments need to be cleared. There is water mafia, garbage mafia etc. All mafia have to be broken. Any programme has 5% of strategy and rest of it — 95% is the implementation. Vision groups don’t achieve anything. Thousands of ideas and solutions already exist. It is the implementation that counts. There is a constitutional mandate to form local planning committees (ward committees) that solve the problem.

Rizwan Arshad. Pic: Shree D N

How will you respond to people once you are elected, and be accessible to all?

Nandini Alva (JDS):

I will connect to citizens through the Dr Jeevaraj Alva foundation. Contesting elections is a tough call, but I have taken a conscious decision.

Rizwan Arshad (INC):

I will evolve a system to involve people by using technology. As a human being it is tough to be present at all times. But people should have a system that works where they can approach and get a response.

V Balakrishnan (AAP):

Bangalore is gifted to have an ecosystem – there is BPAC, there is Janaagraha and others. I will use them. We have to create the system to get to issues bottom up. 90% of people in the constituency have not seen the MP, don’t even know his name. There is no alternative to meeting people consistently. This is why an MP (ends up having to) address the issues a corporator is supposed to address.

P C Mohan (BJP)

I have been a two-time MLA, and an MP for one term. Nobody has ever complained that I haven’t been accessible. I’m always at my office. Weekly thrice, I have been meeting people. Ask the people who come to me. I have even done MLA and corporator’s work as they were not accessible to people.

V Balakrishnan Pic: Shree D N

What issues of Bangalore Central will you raise in the parliament?

Rizwan Arshad (INC):

Five years is a huge time. Focus is on all issues. After 1998, Bangalore started growing. From 2004 to 2014, there was political instability, with coalition governments running the Centre. Bangalore needs lot of attention and lot of growth. Government was ready to give any amount, but there was no plan. So a vision group is required for Bangalore. I would like to highlight all good issues.

V Balakrishnan (AAP):

I will get sufficient allocation of funds and make sure it is spent wisely and properly. Law and order, police reforms, judicial reforms – doubling the number of judges, a clean honest government is the starting point. Fear of law is required – half the crimes will come down.

Above all – we will make sure that when your kids watch Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha TV, they (will) feel proud! We will behave responsibly!

P C Mohan (BJP):

I will bring more funds to Bangalore. As you know the government had many scams. There were protests. 75% of the time, parliament did not function. All the scams made us raise the issues in parliament. No head of government to drive things, that is why there was disturbance.

Rizwan Arshad reacted at this point saying, “We have to understand that the national average of debates was 36. But our MP Mohan had only five debates.” But he was pacified by the moderator, Jairaj.

Nandini Alva (JDS):

Suicide numbers are increasing. So counselling, investing in social infrastructure etc are required. Schooling is very good for some, and very mediocre in some areas. Corporation schools can get adopted. There are many things to be done – let’s work focussed. There are 10 lakh women voters, but they lack safety and dignity. We have to provide them (support), by empowering them.

After this, the moderator, Jairaj, took selected questions from people.

Question to P C Mohan (BJP): Are you interested more in being an MLA than being an MP? (He stood for Assembly Election in 2013 and lost). Your record in parliament was unsubstantial.

P C Mohan (BJP): Contesting for MLA was a party decision, not mine. I am in opposition – only two hours is provided for opposition in debates. Out of that, one hour is used by leaders. Only one hour is dedicated to 100 leaders. We don’t get a chance. Only one hour is allocated for questions – all questions don’t get chance. Ballot decides which question comes up for debate. You have to see all these when looking at records.

Question to Rizwan Arshad (INC):

UPA government’s record is bad. How will you ensure a corruption-free government if voted to power again?

Rizwan Arshad (INC): Corruption can be weeded out through the system. RTI was the biggest step in this direction. Government files were made accessible to the common man. All the scams you are mentioning came out just because of RTI. We started Aadhar card and Direct Benefit Transfers – through which the government sends money to bank. No need for people to run around.

Question to V Balakrishnan (AAP):

Governance record of AAP in Delhi is poor. How do we know you will be serious about issues raised today?

V Balakrishnan (AAP): Governance is not rocket science. Good well-intentioned people, is all we need.

Power without ability to change is of no use. Both Congress and BJP did not let us pass any bills which we promised. So we had to quit. This was the first time somebody gave up power.

Question to Nandini Alva (JDS):  

How will you ensure women’s safety and empowerment?

Nandini Alva (JDS): Vocation training at various levels, cooperative banking, micro finance, co-operative housing, curbing crime at grassroot levels, constant conversation with police department etc are on my agenda. Financial independence for women is the key to confidence, which I would like to achieve.

Jairaj shot the final question:

What is your dream for Bangalore?

V Balakrishnan (AAP): Retain brand Bangalore, good walkable city, garden city, footpath, roads, transport etc. A city livable for all.

Rizwan Arshad (INC): Street lights, women police officers, patrolling, common ideas, extension of nightlife etc. I have the political will to execute all the good things said by my three friends here. (shows all other contestants.)

P C Mohan (BJP): Suburban trains, coordination with Metro, BMTC, feeder connectivity, more funds from centre, housing for urban poor

Nandini Alva (JDS): Nuclear families and no bonding, cynicism is the result. Enough of cynicism. We should take ownership of the city. Each one of us needs to show allegiance – by joining political parties and becoming leaders. A culturally vibrant creative innovative city can produce leaders.

Pic: Shree D N

Nandini Alva was very articulate, while Rizwan was diplomatic in his answers — he did not promise anything but told people to wait and watch. V Balakrishnan stood out with his witty comments and anecdotes aimed at P C Mohan, while P C Mohan was at the receiving end and couldn’t do much to defend himself.

The programme was well-organised and well-moderated. There was a positive atmosphere in the air. Rizwan Arshad got good rounds of applause from a section of audience, presumably Congress supporters. Balakrishnan and Rizwan did a good job of prompting P C Mohan to react to the comments that reflected on his performance.

The incumbent MP, P C Mohan, perhaps was able to read the writing on the wall for this election season — this is going to be a different election with better voting percentages than ever before, and local issues too count, for this constituency. And, people aren’t ignorant — they are watching you — you cannot get away by hoodwinking them anymore!

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Shree D N
About Shree D N 74 Articles
Shree D N is an associate editor with Citizen Matters.

2 Comments

  1. Let the newly elected MP take a pledge before public to eradicate slums, make good infrastructure, make available for easy access to public, take initiative for good transport, decongest traffic, better footpath etc.and should not blame state govt. They should coordinate with the Govt. agencies and do justice to their position.

  2. I invite these candidates in my constituency to walk for one Km on footpaths in their area and find out the truth. Tried to walk from Diamond District gate 1 to Domlur and back. Many streches have no foothpath and I had to keep looking over my shoulder so that I do not get run over by a speeding vehicle. Decided never to walk this strech again and use car. Sad.

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