Krishna Byre Gowda, from the Indian National Congress (INC), has been the MLA of Byatarayanapura since the constituency was formed in 2008. As part of his campaign to win the fourth term, he interacted with representatives of apartment associations in his constituency on April 9th.
The MLA spoke about his achievements and answered key questions from the constituents. He also shared with Citizen Matters his plans for the next term if elected and his stance on certain important issues.
The INC team and KBG, as he is popularly called, stressed multiple times on the MLA’s image as a clean and educated leader. He emphasised on how he had taken on a new and large constituency and helped develop it. And how he wished to improve the “livability” of his constituency.
Apartment dwellers at the meet-up raised various issues, such as incomplete road works, delay in BBMP takeover of neighbourhoods and the lack of bus connectivity. Below are excerpts from his interaction with his constituents and a brief Q and A with Citizen Matters.
Interaction with constituents
On working in Byatarayanapura constituency for the past 15 years
This was a new constituency that was created in 2008. Prior to that, some parts of it were a gram panchayat. Thanisandra, for example, was a gram panchayat and some parts like Sahakarnagar were part of the municipal corporation. I bring this up because, if you cross the Ring Road, the inner side of the Ring Road, they have been part of Bengaluru for 40-70 years. They have been receiving investment and infrastructure over the last of 70 years.
Also, Byatarayanapura is 193 square kilometres. Ten or fifteen times the size of Malleshwaram or Rajajinagar constituency. We inherited a large constituency with the infrastructure of a village and a population that is growing continuously.
We inherited a still developing constituency. I say this because working in such a constituency has been challenging and also extremely satisfying. We inherited a constituency that is vast, underdeveloped, constantly evolving and brought it almost to Bengaluru level over the last 15 years.
When I came, we had very little infrastructure. Most of the constituency had no underground drainage, inadequate Cauvery water supply, and hardly any road infrastructure. Today, we have got underground drainage for 70% of the urban area.
Our constituency is one of the very few, along with Yeshwanthpura and Mahadevapura, that is a mix of urban and rural areas. There are ten urban wards, as well as ten gram panchayats in my constituency. Two gram panchayats have been upgraded to municipalities.
It is a complex constituency. Some people want us to clean leaves off the road twice a week, others want drinking water. And we have to respect both these demands.
On traffic solutions and a new metro line
Whenever I discuss with the more concerned officers, they tell me flyovers and road widening are not the solution. All the planners and technocrats that I talk to insist the solution [to Bangalore’s traffic] lies in public transport. So, we have to somehow make public transport more extensive and get the middle class to adopt it.
Read more: Why flyovers fail to solve traffic problems
The metro work is going on [the Airport line]. This metro line is neither phase 2 nor phase 3. Phase 2 is whatever is happening on the Whitefield and Kengeri side; when we were in government, we approved it. Phase 3 routes are still being aligned. This [airport line] is in the middle. It is a special project.
When Phase 2 was brought before the cabinet, I was in the cabinet then and the line was only till Nagawara. I said, “How atrocious that the whole of North Bengaluru is left out! And don’t forget the airport in the North.” Siddaramaiah agreed and then some sort of a jugaad (arrangement) was done and they created a special project, Phase 2A. [This response was part of the public dialogue Krishna Byre Gowda had with the constituents].
On the issue of increasing bus connectivity in Jakkur and nearby areas of the constituency [audience question]
BMTC is a commercial organisation. They look at footfall, meaning the passenger rates. We will talk to them to increase it. And it will because growth is happening there.
On the delay in widening the Hebbal Flyover
In 2015, we got (former) Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to visit the Dairy Farm Road and showed him the many lanes on the airport side and only two lanes (on the Hebbal flyover) to crossover into the city. He immediately sanctioned the widening of the Hebbal flyover. So, work started in 2017 and went on till 2019. The work stopped when our government went and the present government came. They said the metro is coming and we have to redesign (the flyover widening).
Three years went by. Twenty three crore was already spent in 2018 and then worked stopped for three years. In 2022, we stood up in the Assembly and fought for it. The Chief Minister agreed with us and accepted our demand, but nothing happened. We held a protest here on the street. Then the CM called the BDA commissioner and told him to get it done. They (BDA chairman and Yelahanka BJP MLA SR Vishwanath) came and did some puja (in January 2023) and the work started; and it stopped after one week. But we are not going to give up. And come what may, in the next one year, Hebbal flyover widening will be done. (SR Vishwanath has made similar claims about completing the project within a year).
What did you plan to do in 2018? What are the three things you are proud of achieving in this term?
The holistic engagement we have had with our constituency. Moving beyond physical (infrastructural) development to improving overall quality of life in our constituency. I am happy about the lakes that we have developed. We have rejuvenated over 25 lakes in the constituency and restored some of the dried lakes with treated water from the city. We have focused on preventive healthcare and I am happy about the sports infrastructure that we have developed in the constituency.
What are your priorities for the coming term?
Priorities for the coming term are improving public health, making it affordable and accessible, and bringing health infrastructure to North Bengaluru. People depend largely on private hospitals. Currently, we do not have any public multi-specialty hospital on this side. This is a priority as a multi-specialty hospital will serve not only Byatarayanapura but also other neighbouring districts, like Devanahalli. Getting the metro completed is another priority.
You have previously pointed out that Bengaluru has not received adequate funding from the Central Government and the conversion of taxes into cess has exacerbated this problem. How would a Congress government in the state be able to fix this issue? As an MLA what will you do in this regard?
One of the problems is that the current government in Karnataka, the BJP government, is not pushing the Central government on the devolution of funds for Bengaluru and the entire state of Karnataka. This is because they belong to the same party.
We have to raise these issues and hopefully, with a Congress government, we will push hard for our rightful share in the taxes and a better response to Bengaluru’s needs. Bengaluru now gives livelihood to people from all over the country. It is supporting so many states and generating so much foreign exchange. The Central government is obligated to support the city and we are going to keep demanding until our voices are heard.
Bengaluru hasn’t had city elections for nearly three years now. What are you going to do about this if your party comes to power?
Frankly, you have to ask this question to BJP. They are the ones who haven’t held an election for two and a half years. I am baffled by your question. Yes, you have a right to expect our (the Congress party’s) response, but where is the pushback to BJP? For two and half years they have delayed the election, and this has never happened in the history of Karnataka. And nobody is asking them this question. (Editor’s note: Actually, the BJP led government in 2007 delayed elections by over two years).
We have never delayed the BBMP elections for so long. The last time it (the delay) was for three-four months. Within three to four months, we held the elections. BJP is against decentralisation; they are against local self-governance. They are autocratic and want to centralise power in their hands and the hands of MLAs. This just destroys urban governance. Congress’ record on this issue is crystal clear, and it is clean. BJP has a lot to answer and the people of Bengaluru should demand and hold it against them that we don’t have an elected body in the city.