"Why is Banaswadi not as developed as areas in south Bangalore like JP Nagar, Jayanagar and Banashankari?", asked residents at a recent public meeting with candidates contesting from Banaswadi (Ward 27).
All candidates said that the combined efforts of the Corporator, the BBMP and the public are required to develop the ward.
Another resident, C M Subbaiah, also member of the North East Federation of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) asked the party candidates why they had not raised their voice against the development of a BDA layout on a tank bed in the ward. "Your question is correct. We should have done something, we haven’t", confessed JD(S) candidate Venkatachalapathy.
The case Subbaiah referred to has been in court for quite sometime.
These were just some of the several tough questions asked by Banaswadi residents at a debate-cum-discussion session, held ahead of the BBMP elections. It was organised by Smart Vote (a citizens initiative), Namma Bengaluru Foundation (a not-for-profit headed by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekar) and the Bhuvanagiri Residents Welfare Association (RWA) on March 24th. At least 200 citizens were present at the meeting that took place primarily in Kannada.
Among the candidates present were A Kodandareddy (BJP), Venkatachalapathy of JD(S), B C Prabhakar Reddy (Congress), Rajagopal R (Karnataka Rakshana Vedike), and three independent candidates, D S Rajashekar, Ashok D Kamath and Rajan.
Appeal to Banaswadi residents to vote on March 28th
For a ward that saw the lowest voter turnout in last year’s parliamentary elections, this meet was organised to encourage voters to come out and vote this March 28th.
The candidates introduced themselves with promises of looking into providing basic amenities such as water, electricity and garbage clearance. To questions on whether they will hold monthly meetings with all residents of their ward and if they’ll make public budget allocations of all projects carried out in their ward, all candidates replied in the affirmative saying they will be transparent and accountable. Kamath said he will hold public meetings everyday between 5 and 6 pm. He also added that officials will have to report to him everyday between 2 and 3 pm.
On a question regarding whether Bangalore should have a growth limit, all candidates said that growth inevitable and that proper planning should be done. However, BJP’s Kodandareddy disagreed and said, "Bangalore has grown enough. First meet the current demands. Let others go to jillas".
Candidates voice their views on policy and more
Moving to the subject of road widening, the candidates were asked whether they thought it was better to provide a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) certificate or cash compensation to residents who lose portions of their property.
Some of the candidates were not aware of what TDR was and a Smart Vote member intervened to explain the same to them.
While Kodandareddy, Venkatachalapathy and Reddy said giving a TDR certificate was better than money, Rajashekar said that if cash compensation is given it should be according to market value. Rajagopal and Rajan felt that both options should be available to the public.
On the issue of Akrama Sakrama, Reddy and Rajagopal were outright against it, while Kondandareddy, Rajashekar and Venkatachalapathy were for it. Kamath and Rajan were also in favour of it but felt that the penalty collected by the government should be used for the development of Bangalore.
The next round saw questions from the audience being posed to the contenders. Here, questions were collected on slips of paper instead of citizens asking the questions orally. The moderator read out the questions to the candidates. Interestingly, all questions were beyond the usual water woes, power cuts and garbage clearance.
One of the questions was on why a school was coming up at a BBMP playground premise in the ward. All candidates promised to look into the matter.
Responding to another question on security for women in the early mornings and late evenings using a people-police-politician interface, each of candidates again promised to work in this manner.
Few citizens disappointed over conduct of debate
But even as the debate came to an end, some members of the audience were disappointed over the conduct of the question-answer session, saying they were not given a fair chance.
One citizen Nagaraj fumed that his time was wasted by attending this session. "What are they saying they will solve water problem. All these years no MP or MLA has been able to solve the problem, how will these people solve it?" Nagaraj also felt that more importance was given to RWA members present in the audience to ask questions. "I am very disappointed. I am not satisfied at all. I don’t know who to vote for among these candidates", he said in frustration. He also pointed out to the fact that some of the candidates were not aware of TDR when the question was asked.
Another Banaswadi resident, H K Kalegowda said that the way the debate was conducted was not fair. "They didn’t give us a chance to ask questions". ⊕