On March 24th, residents of Rajarajeshwari Nagar were to get an opportunity to interact with their candidates on a common platform through a debate-cum-discussion, ahead of the BBMP polls. But, this event seemed to have not been taken seriously by the candidates who made cameo appearances and then left much before the debate got over. The event took place at Munivenkatappa Smaraka Bayalu, Rangamandira.
Organised by Namma Bengaluru Foundation, in association with Ideal Homes Association, Radio Indigo, SmartVote and Citizen Matters, the event was meant to be an interactive session between the candidates themselves and also between candidates and residents.
As the contestants left in the middle of other contestant’s speeches, the residents did not get a chance to interact with them. Out of the six candidates who were to come, only four attended the event. While BJP candidate Ramchandra and JD(S) candidate Govind Raj came half an hour after the debate started, Congress candidate Raj Kumar came an hour later. Only Dr Shankar Prasad, contestant for Lok Satta party, was there throughout. Previous councillor, Pramila Baliga did not attend the debate, much to the disappointment of the residents present there.
“If there is a certain format, then they should not change that. The fact that the candidates kept on coming and going at their convenience prevented the actual debate that should have happened. They just spoke their bit and left,” said Guru Raj, a resident of the ward.
Suwarna Sanjay, another resident, felt that it was a disappointing that the question-answer round didn’t happen. “We learnt a lot about the candidates but they should have come on time,” she said.
Rajarajeshwari Nagar (ward number160) is the largest ward of Bangalore, with a population of 43000. Only 200 people turned up for the event.
All the candidates spoke about problems pertaining to solid waste management and water in the ward, which they promised to address if elected. They also touched upon their vision of developing the ward. “I want to make Rajarajeshwari the best ward in the country,” said Dr Prasad during his speech. His main focus was building transparency in BBMP. He promised that if he was elected, he would come up with a website disclosing each and every detail of the ward, including amount allotted and spent on various schemes. He gave a power point presentation after all other candidates had left.
JD(S) candidate Raj, who spoke next, said he would like to develop the area and provide basic facilities.
On a similar vein, BJP candidate Ramchandra said he wanted to develop the ward as much as possible. He said a lot of work needed to be done to provide the basic facilities like water and to provide other facilities like a cricket stadium and a public library.
Congress contestant, Kumar focused on helping everyone lead a better life. He said he could see them living peacefully but he felt that basic facilities were the need of the hour.
Namma Bengaluru Foundation had also prepared a question-answer round on important issues concerned with Bangalore. All the candidates agreed that they would regularly meet the RWA’s citizen council low income groups in the ward and hold meetings once in a month to discuss the grievances of the residents. Similarly, all of them promised to maintain complete transparency. For other questions, which ranged from road-widening to greenery in the ward, they had the same viewpoint. Only on the question of whether they supported Akrama-Sakrama, the Congress candidate did not show his support.
All the candidates spoke about the cosmopolitan character of Bangalore and advocated for English as well as Kannada sign boards in BMTC buses. Apart from this, they also supported teaching in English medium in BBMP corporation schools. They unanimously agreed that it was inevitable and should happen.
However, the event just ended after this leaving no room for interaction with the residents. ⊕