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Bengaluru This Week
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Bengaluru’s Mayor D Venkatesh Murthy is contesting the assembly election this time from Shanthinagar. Murthy has been a corporator thrice, and had been the city’s Mayor till April this year.
Murthy gave this interview to Citizen Matters at a hotel in Domlur last week, where he was holding a meeting with BJP activists on his campaign strategy. Murthy was quick to finish the interview, and soon after, went around to visit businesses in the neighbourhood. His supporters said that there was no public campaign on the day, as Murthy was meeting some ‘important people’.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
What are the main issues in your constituency? What will be your focus areas?
The main issues are that roads are not good, cleaning is not done properly, drinking water is not supplied, sanitation problems are acute, storm water drains are not properly maintained.
Why did you decide to contest this election? Do you think that you can perform better as MLA than as Mayor?
It is the party’s decision. The party decided that I should contest. A Mayor’s duty extends to all 28 constituencies; I have experience as Mayor and corporator. So solving problems of a constituency will be easy for me. And an MLA has more powers than the Mayor.
As Mayor you have not been able to solve issues like garbage. Do you think that you can solve these if you become an MLA?
I will discuss with officers and concerned ministers and solve the issue. On the garbage issue, corporators and MLAs did not properly cooperate to give sites for segregation. In Shanthinagar, I know many corporation and government sites. I will identify these sites and give them to BBMP for garbage segregation.
But BBMP’s overall garbage clearance plan has not been successful – for instance, people are not segregating garbage at home. Is implementing the same plan enough?
BBMP is trying to get sites for segregation. Implementing the same plan is enough. Each ward has 90-100 pourakarmikas, and equipment to clear garbage; it can be done.
BMTF has filed a case against you in a land scam. Will you come clean out of it? Will it affect votes for you?
I am already out of that issue. When I became Mayor, some people (brought this allegation) for their own interest. The case is going on – these cases take 10-20 years to complete. It won’t affect votes.
What are your contributions as Mayor and corporator that you would like to highlight?
I gave Rs 15 crore from Mayor’s medical relief fund, and Rs 150 crore from Mayor’s grant. During my stint, 50-60% of garbage issues were solved. BBMP contributed to the Cauvery 500 MLD project (Stage 4 Phase 2) and Metro. We are not spending directly, but are supporting these two projects. Many signal free corridors and road widening projects have been sanctioned during my tenure (State government had recently sanctioned funds for some projects in BBMP’s 2012-13 budget). We have tendered these projects just now, and they have been suspended because of the election code of conduct.
But in Shanthinagar constituency itself you have mentioned many issues, though you have been the Mayor for the last one year.
It is the job of MLAs and councillors. Voters say MLAs don’t cooperate. MLA is also responsible, MP is responsible, officials and public are also responsible.
If you come to power, will you support decentralisation of power – more power for BBMP, independent of state government?
In our BJP state manifesto, we have suggested that BBMP should be split into two or three new corporations. And there should be more power to the Mayor and a 30-month tenure for the latter’s office. It’s required and I will push for it.
[BJP manifesto says that Mayor’s term should be increased to five years.]
As Mayor, is there any project that you wanted to do, but could not? If yes, why?
If the government is interested, projects will come to BBMP. Corporation is relying only on tax sources. More funds are needed from the government for new projects. Government has to support BBMP.
In general, do you think that G-category sites are being allotted unfairly? Will you ensure that misuse of allotment does not happen?
It is a legal problem. I don’t need a G-category site, I have my own site. You ask MLAs about this.
Should commercial/residential development be stopped in areas that don’t have any water source – either BWSSB supply or borewells?
Yes, it should be stopped. This has also been mentioned in our city manifesto. We have to bring a law for this.
What challenges have you faced as Mayor?
If you come to power, there will be many issues. The main issues I faced were garbage problem and the BMTF case against me.
Any solutions you have for the water crisis in the city?
We will go to the Supreme Court on the Cauvery water issue. I had met Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat. He has sent a letter to me and the government assuring that water will be given on population basis. Currently, population as per the ‘91 census is being used; he has said that supply should be based on the 2011 census. For Bangalore, water can also be taken from Mekedatu, Hemavathi etc.
What is the source for your campaign funds?
I don’t spend much – I go for door-to-door campaigns which don’t require any money.
But won’t an event like today’s, plus posters etc., cost much?
Rs 16 lakh can be spent for campaigns (the upper spending limit). (Murthy does not respond further and asks his supporter and ex-BJP Corporator Gopal Reddy to speak – Reddy says that funds are only from the general public and supporters, and that no businesses have contributed funds.)
Three reasons why voters should elect you?
I have got good experience that will help me solve problems in the constituency. I am a BJP worker, three-time corporator and Mayor. And I am always available too.⊕
He is absoulutely right wen he says he is always available. He is a leader of the common man.