A rare spectacle played out in front of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) office in Bangalore on Saturday with activists of the Aam Aadmi Party staging a demonstration in support of BBMP Chief Engineer N. Devaraj. The senior official submitted his resignation on Friday after his measures to stem corruption in the system were met with stiff resistance from the civic authority’s elected representatives.
In a memorandum, the activists demanded that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah reject the resignation and that “honest officers be given the space to execute their responsibility without interference”. Honest bureaucrats were the foundation of good governance, the activists said.
The imbroglio started when Mr. Devaraj, head of the Technical Vigilance Committee under the Commissioner (TVCC), nixed civic projects worth more than Rs. 500 crore on the grounds that these were unnecessary. In his submission to BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah, Mr. Devaraj had indicated that the projects were being pushed by vested interests with the sole intention of siphoning off public money. In response, Mr. Siddaiah froze the projects, which evoked an angry response from councillors rising above party lines.
Aam Aadmi Party’s seven-point memorandum to the Chief Minister included demands such as police protection for Mr. Devaraj and his family, extension of Mr. Siddaiah’s term, constitution of ward committees comprising citizens, greater autonomy to the TVCC, and the initiation of criminal proceedings against the elected representatives who allegedly issued threats to Mr. Devaraj.