With only two months left for the BBMP council’s term to end and the election likely to be held this year – in 2015, there are all indications of the BBMP polls witnessing an interesting fight between conventional and the new political parties.
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Though almost all the political parties say it is a bit too early to predict the structure of electoral battlefield, specially when the State government is allegedly trying to delay the polls, they admit that the BBMP election this season is going to be different from past. The victory of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi election has kindled new hope not only among AAP leaders in Karnataka, but also other new parties such as Loksatta and Nav Bharat Democratic Party (NBDP) which have been batting for alternative politics. If the new political parties are seeing an opportunity to grab seats in council polls, the traditional parties deny the possibilities of new parties making much out of it.
AAP’s Delhi victory instills confidence
It is not just the AAP that has begun its preparations to fight the BBMP election, even Loksatta and NBDP too are in the similar path. Many people feel all the progressive new parties should contest election in alliance with each other.
However, the chances of new political parties aligning to fight BBMP election seem to be bleak at the moment. Loksatta party which could not make it to the council in last BBMP polls, is quite confident of wooing voters this time. Speaking to Citizen Matters, Loksatta State President N S Mukunda said the party has already begun its preparations to face the BBMP polls.
“We have formed committees in all the wards. Party members are in constant touch with the public. AAP’s performance in Delhi has indeed given us hope in our struggle for alternative politics that is devoid of spending excess money and caste strategies. I cannot predict that the AAP’s victory in Delhi will have an impact on their party’s performance in BBMP polls or not if they contest, but it will surely instill confidence in new political parties,” he said.
When asked if Loksatta had any plans to align with AAP to fight BBMP election, he said it was too early to comment. However, he hinted of Loksatta’s readiness to fight on its own. “It is a false assumption that votes will be divided if the like-minded political parties field their candidates separately. Though the basic objective of AAP and Loksatta is same, the ideologies differ. If all the political parties field good candidates, it is up to the people to decide whom they want to see in power. People will have more choices and that would be the beauty of democracy,” he said, adding that Loksatta would like to see AAP as their main contender.
AAP too has expressed keenness to field its candidates in every ward. “The party wanted to step its foot in politics in Karnataka through local body elections. That did not happen as we had to fight the parliament election first. Now that BBMP polls are likely to be held in a few months, we might get into the fray if people want us to. We have learnt a few lessons from Delhi election. Our primary aim is to improve the organisational structure of the party in capital city by addressing people’s problems. The party has already commenced the membership drive,” says AAP National Executive member from Bengaluru, Prithvi Reddy.
‘Will field candidates where there are no good ones’
Another new party which is hoping to make its presence felt in BBMP polls is Nav Bharat Democratic Party (NBDP). The new generation party, founded by R K Misra has plans to field its candidates wherever other political parties do not field ‘good’ candidates.
Misra’s view is in contrast with that of Loksatta leaders. “There are no plans of alignment with other parties at the moment and we will take a call after studying the candidates fielded by various political parties in each ward. We do not want the votes to split in a ward where a good candidate is fielded by any of the political party,” he said, while being optimistic of the parties like the BJP, Congress and the JD(S) too of fielding good candidates to compete with AAP.
Though he does not see AAP’s victory in Delhi casting major impact on BBMP polls, Misra opines that AAP may evoke positive response in new Bengaluru areas where the infrastructure development has taken a backseat and people have developed resentment towards the local elected representatives.
Conventional parties see no threat
The conventional political parties, however, do not see an immediate threat to their existence in BBMP, even if the new parties try to give tough fight. Leader of the ruling party in BBMP, N R Ramesh, a corporator from BJP, denied the chances of AAP bringing Delhi’s DNA to Bengaluru.
“The situation in which AAP won in Delhi is completely different. In Delhi, the BJP’s vote share was almost the same in both the Assembly elections. AAP’s vote share increased as it grabbed the votes of the Congress. With this being the reality, the situation is completely different in Bengaluru. AAP’s performance in BBMP polls will depend on the party’s administration in Delhi in next few months,” he noted. He expressed confidence of the BJP retaining its power in BBMP even if the election is held anytime within six months.
Former leader of Opposition in BBMP council, Congress corporator M K Gunashekhar said it was premature to say if the AAP’s triumph in Delhi will impact BBMP polls. “The strategies and election manifesto in Delhi was completely different from what it will be in Bengaluru. People of this city will vote for a candidate based on the election manifesto of a particular party. I believe every political party will come up with a strong manifesto to draw the attention of the voters in BBMP polls,” he said. However, he felt it is premature to say if the AAP jumping into frey in BBMP polls will affect the vote share of old parties.
As for as the JD(S) is concerned, party is confident that the entry of new political parties into frey will not affect the prospective of the party. “All parties including the JD(S) have their own vote bank, which will not change with the entry of new party,” said JD(S) floor leader in BBMP council R Prakash.
Preparation in full swing
When asked whether the Congress was ready to face BBMP polls, Gunashekhar said that the party has initiated membership drives. AAP too is in the poll mode, arranging membership drives in various parts of the city. Loksatta has formed a committee to look after the BBMP polls.
The BJP and the JD(S) claim to have already entered the poll mode. BJP corporator N R Ramesh said the party has directed the corporators to gear up for the polls. Prakash from JD(S) said that the party is ready with the list of candidates who will contest the election.
Many those who want to contest corporation election, from across all the parties, are a part of various training programmes being undertaken in the city, such as BCLIP.
Political analyst Prof Sandeep Shastri though sees an opportunity for the AAP to give a fight in the BBMP polls, is uncertain if the party can convert opportunity into reality. “It is important to note that the AAP emerged victorious in Delhi due to its long struggle. AAP had done a lot of groundwork in Delhi, but is the party’s Bengaluru unit too doing the same? More significantly, AAP Delhi unit had a few credible faces whom people trusted, do they have such faces in Bengaluru too?” he asks.
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