After a three-year delay, Bangaloreans are set to choose representatives to the Greater Bangalore City Corporation March 28. It will be the third major poll in Karnataka in two years.
Over 6.6 million people will be eligible to elect 198 councillors to the corporation, known as Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.
Since November 2006, the city has been ruled by administrators appointed by the government as elections were put off to rework the wards to keep pace with Bangalore’s expansion. The Bangalore City Corporation, which had 100 elected corporators till 2006, became Greater Bangalore City Corporation in April 2007 with the merger of neighbouring areas which had their own City Municipal Councils until then.
Disputes over which and how many wards should be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes further delayed the polls, now being held after the state high court and the Supreme Court rejected the government plea for more time to hold the elections.
The polls are prestigious for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it has done consistently well in all the elections held after it captured power for the first time in the state in the May 2008 assembly polls.
In the April-May Lok Sabha elections last year, the party won 19 of the 28 seats. It has also performed well in the bypolls to the assembly and the legislative council held since 2008.
Of the 27 assembly seats from Bangalore, the BJP bagged 16 in the May 2008 assembly polls, leaving the Congress a poor second with just 10 seats and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) headed by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda a distant third with only one seat.
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has done his bit by showering goodies on Bangalore in the state budget for 2010-11 presented March 5.
“For the infrastructure development of Bangalore, the state government will spend a total of Rs.5,325 crore to improve city roads and footpaths, construction of fly-overs, service roads, over/under bridges, water tanks, 10 multi-storey vehicle parking centres and on the ongoing metro rail project,” Mr. Yeddyurappa promised.
His government also spared the Bangaloreans of a hike in bus transport fares while increasing the rate for inter-district travel by around five percent from March 4 midnight.
The issues for Bangalore voters have been almost constant for more than a decade now - better roads, end to traffic jams, uninterrupted power, adequate drinking water, better policing and check on corruption in civic bodies.
In spite of these problems continuing to haunt residents of this tech hub, the Congress is finding it difficult to pose a major threat to the BJP’s plan to capture power in Bangalore city also.
With a string of electoral setbacks since the May 2008 assembly polls, the Congress is yet to get its act together. Its main problem is finding an urban face like S.M. Krishna, former state chief minister who is now external affairs minister in the union government. Mr. Krishna is credited with turning Bangalore around as the country’s IT hub.
It is a different matter though that he was blamed for being too Bangalore-centric after the party was defeated in the 2004 assembly polls.
Deve Gowda’s JD-S is still struggling to spread wings in the city as the former prime minister is focusing on retaining the party’s dwindling support among farmers and rural voters in the southern parts of the state.
According to the poll schedule announced Saturday, filing of nominations will commence March 9. The last date for filing papers is March 15, scrutiny on March 17 and the last date for withdrawal is March 19. Counting will take place April 5.