With the BBMP elections just round the corner, parties considered to be at the fringe of Bangalore’s politics have gotten off the blocks first to present their agendas and unveil their candidates.
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The Civic Front, comprising of ten political parties released their manifesto for the coming elections yesterday at a meeting near N R Square. The Civic Front is spearheaded by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and includes All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Indian National League (INL), Republic Party of India (RPI), Communist Party of India (CPI), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (A), Prajavani Vimochana Chaluvali(PVC) and the Tipu Sultan United Front (TUF).
Asgar Rafiyuddin, President of the INL in Karnataka, said, "This front is an alternative force for Bangalore. It is not just a political force but a movement for the concern of the people and will exist even after the elections."
The front has come out with a detailed agenda on what their priorities will be should they come to power. The focus is on providing the people with basic amenities, healthcare, education, housing, and efficient public transport. It also promises to facilitate social welfare and justice and the decentralisation of power. Prakash K, a senior leader with the CPI (M), pointed out , "The divide between the rich and the poor in Bangalore in increasing day-by-day. The neo-liberal policies of the parties in power focus only on the rich. The lower income groups especially the unorganised sector are being ignored. The Civic Front wants to fight this."
The Civic Front plans to field candidates in all 198 wards but for now have released a list of 55 wards from which the candidates will be selected. A second and a third list with the rest of the wards and the categories from which the candidates will be picked is said to be released in two days. Prakash K added, "The names of most of the candidates will be made known by the 13th of March. And by the 15th all the names will be out."
AIADMK’s K R Krishnaraju , while insisting that the Front was for the civilians said, "The parties that form the Civic Front have always worked for the betterment of the common man. Hence, I wholeheartedly, request the people to support and encouraging us by casting their votes in our favour. The Front will take out a rally on the 20th of this month to start their campaign. Sitaram Yechury, senior politburo member for the CPI(M), will be present at the rally.
On the other side of the spectrum, a new political party rooting for change in politics itself, have started their campaign. The Andhra Pradesh-based Lok Satta Party, which launched in Bangalore only last year, will debut in Karnataka with the BBMP elections. Seven candidates took a public oath promising a corrupt free and an effective tenure in office if they were voted to power.
K Ram Lakshmi, the President of the Lok Satta party in Karnataka who is in her 50s, said, "The candidates have been chosen by a panel set up by us. All the candidates must go through a rigourous selection process after an intense scrutiny of their past records. Therefore, we are planning to contest only in 20 wards so that only honest candidates are selected."
On why these well-qualified people have decided to run for office, Dr Shankara Prasad, who is in his late 50s and is contesting from Rajarajeshwari Nagar, says, " I worked with the government for nine years as an e-governance specialist. I tried it from outside and I realised that the people who are working from the inside need to passionate and courageous too. This is why I decided to contest the elections so that I can infuse life from the inside."
On the other hand, N.S Ramakanth, a 72-year old contesting from Vasanthnagar says, "I was frankly fed-up of working from outside!" He explains, "I have served the community for the past 10 years and saw that work that could be done in 1 year took me at least 4-5years to complete thanks to the non-corporation of the authorities. This is why I have decided to contest."
N.S Ramakanth, Vasanth Nagar, Ward 93
Prakash Belawadi, Sunkena Halli, Ward 142
Hariharan Chandra Shekhar, Lakkasandra, Ward 146
C.N Kumar, Basavanagudi, Ward 154
Dr. Shankar Prasada, Rajarajeswari Nagar, Ward 160
Major political parties in Bangalore are yet to start campaigning but given the challenges fringe candidates have, moving slow is a luxury that they can ill afford.
Shankara Prasad says, " I start campaigning at 6 in the morning and go on till 9 in the night." He adds, " I go door-to-door, campaign at parks also use Facebook, Twitter and the likes." He claims that even the slum dwellers are able to make the connect with him. "In my ward there are over 20,000 people who are slum dwellers. When I approach them they say that educated people like me should win. The response has been fantastic! "
Dr Meenakshi Bharath, the candidate from Aramane Nagar, asserts, "Campaigning is tiring but also rewarding. Most of the people have been positive in their response. Their only demand is that the interaction between the elected individual and them go up. And I plan to do that." ⊕