In a damage-control exercise, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its government in the State have launched a programme to reach out to opinion makers in Bengaluru— IT industry bigwigs and select representatives of the residents’ welfare associations (RWAs). This follows the recent barrage of criticism against the government over flooding and crumbling infrastructure in the city. The recently concluded Assembly session also saw the Opposition raise the issue to corner the government. The outreach programme also comes in the run-up to the civic polls and Assembly elections.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday met T.V. Mohandas Pai, formerly associated with Infosys, who had been critical of the State government of late and had even tweeted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Chief Minister’s Office tweeted saying, Mr. Pai “thanked the chief minister for the initiative taken to improve Bengaluru infrastructure”. Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Pai termed the meeting “positive”.
“The Chief Minister explained the focus on administrative reforms in the city, making civic administration more decentralised. He has also given enough funds to fill potholes. I asked him to finish all the pending projects like flyovers at Shivananda Circle and Ejipura and take up a massive cleaning drive across the city, to which he responded positively,” Mr. Pai said. When quizzed over statements of some of the ruling party members that criticism was indeed hurting ‘Brand Bengaluru’, Mr. Pai said criticism by civil society was a reflection of a vibrant democracy. He said he stressed the need to develop Hubballi–Dharwad as an economic centre in North Karnataka.
Meanwhile, B.L. Santhosh, BJP national general secretary (Organisation), met with select representatives of the RWAs in the city in an outreach programme organised by the BJP Economic Cell, Karnataka. Vikram Rai, secretary, Bengaluru Apartment Federation (BAF), who was part of the closed-door meeting, said Mr. Santhosh stressed the track record of the State government in implementing administrative reforms in city governance. “He said the party’s and the State government’s priorities for city administration were infrastructure, sustainability, and urban poor. The recent floods and gaps in infrastructure came up repeatedly during the session. He gave us a patient hearing and promised to try to communicate to the government the issues we have raised,” he said.
Residents of Gandhi Bazaar, who are objecting to white-topping and pedestrianisation of Gandhi Bazaar Main Road, also met him separately. “When we raised our objections to the project, he cited the example of Chandini Chowk in Delhi and said we cannot oppose development. We made a presentation and he said he would get back to us soon,” said N.S. Mukunda of Bengaluru Praja Vedike, who was part of the meeting.