Bengaluru’s civic institutions collapsed under BJP rule: Dinesh Gundu Rao

The former Minister says that lack of planning, corruption, collapse of civic institutions during BJP rule led to infrastructure bottlenecks in India’s IT hub

Updated - April 28, 2023 01:55 pm IST

Published - April 27, 2023 10:41 pm IST - Bengaluru

Former Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao

Former Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Former Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dinesh Gundu Rao was elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly for five terms consecutively from Gandhinagar constituency in Bengaluru. The former Minister says that lack of planning, corruption, collapse of civic institutions during BJP rule led to infrastructure bottlenecks in India’s IT hub which has 28 segments.

Excerpts:

Bengaluru contributes more than 60% of the income to Karnataka’s economy. How is this Karnataka election significant for your party, largely from Bengaluru perspectives?

Bengaluru is one of the most important cities of India. The growth and development of the city is a must. Proper planning and better infrastructure, better transportation are major issues. Bengaluru’s governance is very much based on the State government’s performance.... The city’s administration is controlled by the State government. So, it requires a very good government in the State to realise Bengaluru’s fullest potential.

What are the issues the Congress is focusing on in Bengaluru in this election?

Our manifesto which will be released soon will talk about it in detail. We are facing a lot of problems in the city due to lack of proper planning. If we don’t have proper planning and vision then the growth becomes uncontrolled and haphazard. So, you have commercial and residential areas overlapping, green and ecological areas get destroyed. Moreover, public transport is a key for the city. And Bengaluru’s biggest problem is traffic. We need to improve public transport and we need to see that peripheral ring road is executed, though we have been talking for a long time, to decongest the city. And see that metro rail work continued with pace. Transport, environment and planning are key issues in Bengaluru.

Irrespective of the party in power, infrastructure woes appear to be constant in Bengaluru. What are the problems of a city like Bengaluru at a deeper level? Is it reliance on quick fixes rather than long term vision that take into accounts potential population growth etc.?

Bengaluru was a wonderful city during pre-liberalisation. It was a pensioners’ paradise. The city has seen rapid growth after liberalisation of the economy. We have not been able to keep pace with the tremendous and uncontrolled growth. What we need is that the city gets special treatment by the government and focused attention. A fully dedicated team combined of professionals, political leaders, planners, engineers and officials needed to solve the City’s problems.

Watch | We need to ensure Bengaluru gets special treatment by the government: Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao

Do you think the BJP government fails to provide good governance in Bengaluru?

Yes. The BJP government has totally failed and it had no vision at all. They had planning, no discussions, no deliberations. In fact, the Chief Minister (Basavaraj Bommai) holds the Bengaluru development portfolio. Unfortunately, I don’t see him calling a meeting of all stakeholders, all legislators to discuss what we need for the city. And it’s all driven by projects. Its more based on getting more funds sanctioned for their (BJP) constituencies. The BJP MLAs are grabbing funds running into (rupees) thousands of crores while Congress and JD (S) constituencies are given paltry funds... They (BJP) purposely stalled the BBMP elections. Now BBMP is run by officials. Today, BDA is in bad shape. Because corruption has hit the ceiling. All (city) organisations are collapsing such as BDA, BBMP, BMRDA. It’s all based on how much money you make, how much commission you can take, how much funds I can take to my constituency. So, how can you develop a city in a holistic manner without a plan and a vision.

Do you see discrimination in allocation of funds between BJP and Opposition MLAs?

Very much. This (BJP) government went extreme. Normally, the ruling party tends to give slightly more funds to their MLAs. When the Congress government is there then the party MLAs tend to get little more funds. But the BJP government is very blatant. When my neighboring constituency gets ₹600 crore, and I am getting ₹80 crore. Where is the comparison? This kind of partiality was never seen before.

The Congress promises four guarantees and their implementation requires ₹50,000 crore per year. Will it not affect spending on infrastructure?

We have promised four guarantees to the people and there is no going back on that. There are some other ways of mobilizing funds for infrastructure. One of the basic reasons why we announced these guarantees is that today’s taxation system is skewed against the common man, middle class, lower middle class and the poor. For the rich, taxes are lowered. Indirect taxes are the same for both poor and the rich. Poorer people are paying 60-70 % of their proportionate income in taxes. Under the GST everybody is being taxed. So, these taxes should go back to the people in some way to help them to lead a decent life. Now, for every one rupee that Karnataka gives, it gets back only 15 paisa now against 36 paisa earlier. We are losing a lot of money, though we are controlling our population and better administration compared to other states. We have to review the implementation of the GST.

Do you think Congress will ensure more stability than the BJP and accelerate the growth of Bengaluru and Karnataka?

I am very sure of that. If you look at the Siddaramaiah-led government, it was a very stable one. Besides some minor issues, we gave good governance and there was far less corruption. There were no scandals and we implemented our manifesto. It was a much better government. Today the system is corrupt. We need to work on this otherwise Karnataka’s resources will be going to private peoples’ pockets.

There is an allegation of “adjustment politics” between leaders in Bengaluru with clearly demarcated territories, which is the reason why same MLAs get elected from certain areas. What is your comment on that?

This is something that is spoken about by many people. But it is factually not true at all. Some MLAs have been winning and others have been losing. Some MLAs whether Congress or BJP have been able to retain their seats. Some of the constituencies BJP is strong and some others the Congress is very strong due to constituency profile. In some constituencies there will always be a fight. There will be close margins and close results. Moreover, Bengaluru is different from rural areas. The voters here are not so much driven by caste combination. So, anybody who is able to keep the connect with the voters with development work then he/she tends to get elected.

What are reasons for lower voting percentage in Bengaluru?

I think there are two aspects to this. One is we are unable to get an accurate voters’ list. Normally, I have been noticing that 10% of the voters’ names found missing in the list are either dead, moved on or not staying in the locality. I think this time the voters list would be more accurate. Second is apathy. More educated and more young voters also seem to be not so much interested in voting. In rural areas political involvement is much higher. Voters’ personal connection with candidates is higher in rural areas.

Do you think ticket distribution in the Congress has been done in a fair manner? There are reports of many loyalists of Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar getting ticket.

Ticket distribution is always a tricky subject. There was a lot of demand for ticket this time because the Congress is hoping to return to power. Of course, every leader has their own followers. Some may have more followers, some may have less followers. This time AICC did its job more professionally. There is no major rebellion.

If it comes to power, will the Congress restore the 4% OBC quota for Muslims scrapped by the BJP government?

The removal of the 4% Muslim quota is an illegal act. I feel there is no justification for the government to remove the quota. They (BJP) misleading the people by saying there is nothing in the Constitution to give reservation on the basis of religion. But this quota was given based on the backward class commission report and based on the status of the community. The removal of quota should be based on scientific study based on the backward class commission report. But the BJP government wanted to divide between Hindus and Muslims. But I would like to appreciate the Muslim community for their patience. They understood the game plan and they fought it legally. I am sure that the court stay will eventually come in the form of an order which would scrap the government’s order. This BJP plan of trying to woo the Vokkaligas and Lingayats will backfire it in polls.

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