Whom did you want to surprise, Mr Chief Minister?

Waiting for the Chief Ministers. Many officials, security personnel, political leaders were present. Pic: Meera K.

The first thing that hits you is the strong smell of bleach all over. Then you realise something looks different, cleaner. The roads look recently cleaned, potholes have a temporary filling of wet quarry dust. The debris dumped on the side, that was there till yesterday is now missing.

This was the scene at Kaikondrahalli lake. And at Agara lake, Mekhri Circle, Malleshwaram and probably a few other places in the city on Saturday.

All thanks to the chief minister who was on a so-called ‘surprise’ city inspection, for which the officials of CM’s office, BBMP and others were preparing since previous morning.

Toilet gets a pit, carpets laid

The previous day, a request from MAPSAS (the trust that looks after the lake) to not fix Shamianas within the lake premises was ignored. A temporary sewage pit was dug for the toilet that was locked up till date for want of water and drainage connections. And bingo! The toilet became ‘usable.’

Shamianas were erected; red and green carpets and chairs arranged to welcome the dignitaries. Snacks and refreshments were ordered, and plastic cups and plates were arranged. A query on who would spend for all these, was laughed off by an official, who reportedly said, “Who else? The taxpayers, of course!”

The officials of BBMP and other agencies were on duty early on Saturday morning. 40-odd men from Karnataka State Reserve Police were also deployed.

The Joint Commissioner of Mahadevapura and MLA Aravind Limbavali were at hand, near the entrance for a few hours, waiting to receive the CM and show him the success story of lake rejuvenation.

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When the CM doesn’t turn up

A BBMP press note said the CM was supposed to start his surprise inspection of developmental works at 9.30 am. However, another press note from the Information Department said the tour would start at 11.15am.

Calls made to known sources at various intervals pointed CM’s location at Mekhri Circle, Malleshwaram, Uttarahalli Ring Road, Central Silk Board junction, Outer Ring Road, Agara lake etc.

Finally, Siddaramaiah was running late and could not visit Kaikondrahalli lake, the last stop in his itinerary.

When it was clear the CM wasn’t coming, the MLA planted the sapling. Everyone clicked pictures on their cellphone cameras. Then the tired crowd moved into the shamiana. They opened the refreshment counter, partook the samosas and sandwiches from a nearby cafe, tea and coffee and bottled water, and went home.

Saturday night it rained. On Sunday, the potholes, the muck and garbage were back in their usual spots.

It wasn’t clear who was meant to be surprised. His own entourage knew everything – his entire itinerary – and and officials were prepared in advance, with all face-saving last minute work.

It is said, in the olden days, the ruler would travel through his kingdom in disguise, to understand how his subjects lived. Do consider it next time, Mr Chief Minister, if you really want to inspect the city and see its true colours.

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About Meera K 45 Articles
Meera K is the co-founder of Citizen Matters, the award-winning civic media platform. She also helped initiate Open City, an urban data platform (opencity.in). Meera is an Ashoka Fellow, recognised for her work building open knowledge platforms that allow citizens to collaborate and improve their cities. She is Founder-trustee at Oorvani Foundation.


  1. Corrigendum – I meant to say ‘without’ and not ‘with’ the obnoxious fanfare 🙂

  2. During a long stint in the Gulf one thing that stood out quite prominently was the fantastic infrastructure in roads, flyovers, bridges, drainage, greening, metro rails etc. Even more striking was that these would open up magically one fine morning with the obnoxious fanfare that typifies even the opening of a public toilet in India. Why blame only the Netas and Babus when there are many of us who too like to noisily and publicly celebrate every event in our lives whether religious or non-religious?

  3. Most of the MLA’s & Babu’s use everything that is not desi. They need mineral water bottles and red carpet welcome; what they don’t understand is that the government is spending huge money for this visit and portion is siphoned off at lower levels by giving fake bills. Also the chaos that is created when the so called VIP enters the designated place of visit displaces the common man. Why is it that we don’t adopt simple practice of not showing off. We the voters elect the representatives to work for the city or local ward. What happens is known to everyone? BBMP says they don’t have money but for meetings, they spend lavishly. Do they do the same at home. Why can’t these people adopt simple practices to save the moolah. Changes has to happen from everywhere in the government instead of spending on entourage lavishly. Mr. CM where is your promise of development. POSCO would have created at least 10000 jobs for Kannadigas. They now set shop outside our state. Most of the private sector large corporate would follow suit should there be no development. Better to wake up now and start taking decisions and not keep things pending; otherwise, it would be a sorry state of affairs for us, the people of Karnataka.

  4. Spare the rod and you spoil the child is the old adage. As long as government does not hold the stick and fire the incompetent, nothing will change. Why private sector shines and government industries perish is because effectiveness is the manthra of private sector unlike that of government where efficiency is not the prime concern.

  5. Don’t know if it is appalling or ironical, but we are refusing to change and adapt to the modern means of governance. The CM does not seem to know where his priorities should lie. Instead of developing into a mega city, we see to be headed towards being a ‘mega-village’. Infact much of the positive change we see around us is chiefly attributed to the laws laid by the supreme court and the resident welfare associations. Left to the govt, the clock of development would be working backwards.

  6. The city tour of CM should be without creating another havoc in common man’s daily expedition through city to reach office, school, hospital or wherever his destination. As CM started his surprise tour, entire route of his tour plan became stand still for him to pass through. How will he understand the regular struggle of a common man when he is able to cris cross through the city without any traffic. At least being in the traffic and experiencing the pathetic conditions of BMTC buses by himself will help him to get gyan on promoting best public transport and first and last mile connectivity in the city. Similarly goes with all the other places wherever he wants to visit. Surprise visit also will give him an idea on how many of his officials and departments are working sincerely if he really wants to make the difference. Otherwise all these dramas will become or add one more struggling day for the citizen who becomes the victim of angry supervisor or manager for being late or victim who failed to reach on hospital on time to get timely medical help.

  7. @ Raju – In fact, there are two such CM’s in today’s world – Manohar Parikkar of Goa, and Manik Sarcar of Tripura. Somebody should tell Namma CM to follow their examples if he is sincere about bringing about changes

  8. The scenario at Agara Lake was very different 🙂 LDA had planned a red carpet kind of welcome by the citizens n few Congress leaders decided to take the CM to the worst part of the lake, he addressed the gathering next to the MOST stinking end of the lake 🙂

  9. If our Representative turned VVIPs- public servants- and the white caller babus- govt. servants- become one among the common people in using public transport, govt. schools, public toilets, restaurants, they can encounter realities of life of a common man.Surprise visits, checks, inspection should really be a surprise, then it becomes good governance. Otherwise it will continue like the ticket checking scandal in KSRTC which is of no use.. Stage managed functions are similar to playing drama or cinema! Raju m.r

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