What do Congress and BJP manifestos mean for Bengaluru?

Both agree on public transport, satellite towns; Cong. for direct election of mayors

Updated - April 09, 2019 08:17 am IST

Published - April 08, 2019 11:53 pm IST - Bengaluru

Bengaluru  Karnataka  08/04/2019  BJP Manifesto for Parlimentary elections

Bengaluru Karnataka 08/04/2019 BJP Manifesto for Parlimentary elections

With the manifestos of leading national parties BJP and Congress now in public domain, civic activists in the city have started breaking down what it means for the city.

To begin with the similarities, both parties agree on the need to encourage public mass transit, e-vehicles and non-motorised transport, and promise to formulate a national urban mobility policy — an issue that has seen recent civic movements revolving around it.

The BJP manifesto promises an integration of public transport and private players like bus and cab services, apart from promoting a common mobility card. The Congress manifesto has earned some brownie points with the city’s mobility activists by mentioning sub-urban rail network, which the BJP does not mention. However, it stresses on metro connectivity and promises to “ensure 50 cities are covered with a strong metro network” in the coming five years.

Tara Krishnaswamy of Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), which is at the forefront of #ElevatedCorridorBeda campaign here, said the Congress should stand by its manifesto and scrap the elevated corridor and steel flyover projects. The BJP should also spell out its commitment to not support mega infrastructure projects for private transport, she said.

However, N.S. Mukunda, founder president of Citizen Action Forum (CAF), said both manifestos had “reproduced the text book rhetoric” on public transport but their actions have not matched their words.

Bengaluru  Karnataka  08/04/2019  Congress manifesto for Parlimentary elections

Bengaluru Karnataka 08/04/2019 Congress manifesto for Parlimentary elections


The other point of convergence between the two manifestos is support to develop suburban towns or satellite towns and new urban centres.

But the BJP manifesto has no mention of its key scheme — Smart Cities Mission, that was billed as a big boost for urban infrastructure. Neither parties have mentioned their flagship urban infrastructure schemes — Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) of Congress and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) of BJP.

Beyond these common grounds, the Congress’s manifesto promises structural reforms in urban governance, including devolution of powers to urban local bodies (ULBs) in line with the 74th amendment to the Constitution, direct election of mayors with a fixed term of five years with the administration accountable to the mayor and council, and to make provisions for lateral entry for urban experts. It has also promised devolution of funds to ULBs to make them financially independent.

“Congress was the author of 73rd and 74th amendment on local self government in 1994. It should be held accountable for not implementing these amendments during the UPAs 10-year tenure. But it is welcome they have now announced their commitment to its implementation. It is a disappointment that BJP hasn’t even mentioned it,” Mr. Mukunda said.

While Congress manifesto has promised Right to Housing for urban poor, build more night shelters, launch a Slum Upgradation and Transformation Scheme, the BJP manifesto is silent on the urban poor. Congress manifesto also speaks of making public spaces safe for women, children, persons with disabilities, migrants and marginalised sections of society. Urbanist Ashwin Mahesh said that world over, left of centre governments were more comfortable with legislations and concentrate on improving the rights of citizens that will sustain over successive regimes as well, where as right of centre governments mostly concentrated on outcomes and administration. “This is a trend true to Congress and BJP manifestos over urban policy as well,” he said.

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