It was probably for the first time that candidates from a constituency came together, sharing the same stage, to speak about their agenda and plan of action if voted to power. Supported by Smart Vote, a campaign that provides information regarding candidates standing for elections, television channel News 9 organised a constituency-wise political debate for the Bengaluru urban area.
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The second session held in the afternoon on Tuesday, 14th April, had the candidates of Bangalore North debating. The candidates present at the event were C K Jaffer Sharief (Indian National Congress), D B Chandre Gowda (BJP), Surendra Babu (JD(S)), M Tippuvardhan (Bharatiya Praja Paksha), Zafer Mohiuddin (Independent) and V Prasanna Kumar (Independent).
The session started with each of the candidates introducing themselves and explaining the problems plaguing Bangalore North. Prasanna Kumar’s pitch was that he is a local candidate and is familiar with the problems of the area. “Political parties have not helped in any way. That is why I am contesting now,” he said.
Chandre Gowda, a three-time MP and four-time MLA spoke about the objectives of the constitution and the multiple problems in Bengaluru. Water supply is the major problem in the city, he said. Gowda is now with the BJP, having moved recently from the Congress.
It was then the turn of consulting architect Zafer Mohiuddin, whose main purpose of contesting is to get the youth to vote. “Traffic, pollution, civic amenities. These are the problems I’ll address,” he said. Veteran C K Jaffer Sharief said, “After losing last time, I want to win now. I will then think of retiring.” Sharief spoke about his being responsible for Bangalore’s famous hanging bridge at K R Puram and his achievements as a Railway Minister.
It was then the turn of 40-year-old Tippu Vardhan who said straight and clear, “Our nation is facing a lot of problems. I want to serve the public.” JD(S) candidate Surendra Babu’s selling point was, “I am young and educated.” The 44-year-old agriculturist and lawyer stuck to talking about the way amendments are made in parliament according to “the whims and fancies of those in power”.
It was then time for the audience to shoot their questions. The first question about the alarming water crisis in the city, was met with some very vague answers, with each candidate promising to “certainly take it up if I am elected”.
Seventy-six year old Sharief was asked, after four terms, what unfinished work he has that people should vote for him now. “Government work is continuous work. Few important issues are there which are not in the hands of one MP. We will have to follow party line,” he replied, adding that water, infrastructure and power are the main problems in the city.
Another member of the audience brought up the issue of corruption and why the Lok Ayukta is not empowered, to which Babu brought up the issue of amendments again. “Politicans need to come clean. We need to question politicians. Right now we can do it only to a certain extent. Ruling party prevents such an investigaton,” he said. Gowda responded with the BJP’s mantra of “good and clean governance”, while Sharief said corruption takes place because people are anxious to get things done. Mohiuddin pointed out that people who give bribes are also as corrupt, to which Babu shot back saying the public cannot be blamed and that it is the government that needs to keep a check on this.
The candidates were then asked what according to them was the pressing issue facing the nation. Security, corruption, unemployment and caste were some of the answers.
The session ended with each of the candidates stating out their vision for Bengaluru. Mohiuddin said the city’s infrastructure needs to be planned by urban planners and not politicians. “We need to look at the convenience of the people,” he said.
Sharief spoke about bringing back the vision of Sir H N Vishveshwarayya, Kempegowda and C V Raman. Prasanna Kumar said, “Everyone is a crook. That’s why I am contesting. They will only talk. Vote for youth.” Vardhan said the issues of roads, drainage and infrastructure need to be addressed. Surendra Babu said outer Bangalore needs to be developed and also that MPs should not wash off their hands after five years.
The ‘bombaat verdict’ ended with many from the audience disappointed that they did not get entirely satisfactory answers. As the candidates debated and argued about communalism, two party system and multi party system, water supply and so on, Surendra Babu’s statement lingers, “Mind is not applied in parliament. Application of mind is needed.” ⊕