The State government issued the final notification of the newly delimited 225 wards in the city’s civic administration area on Tuesday. While this is seen as a step closer to holding the much-delayed civic polls in the city, multiple leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said they have decided to challenge this notification as their objections have not been considered and suitable changes made.
They allege that the delimitation was done “unscientifically” and to “benefit the ruling party”, a charge Congress then in opposition made against the earlier delimitation draft done by the previous BJP regime, giving the city’s residents a sense of deja vu.
This, if it finds admission in the High Court of Karnataka, will likely delay the civic polls further. Senior minister and city MLA Ramalinga Reddy, who heads a Congress party internal committee on Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) elections, has been saying that the government will hold civic polls in December 2023, in line with the High Court directions.
The court hearing multiple petitions challenging the earlier delimitation exercise and a petition seeking early polls to the civic body, had set a 12-week deadline to re-do the exercise. The State government has now complied with the deadline.
The Urban Development Department (UDD), which issued the draft notification of the 225 wards on August 18, gave a 15-day window for the public to file objections. While the UDD received over 3000 objections. Rakesh Singh, Additional Chief Secretary, UDD, said that a total of 1702 objections, mostly related to change of ward names and continuity of ward boundaries were considered before issuing the final notification. He said those objections that were considered impacted 68 wards.
The Congress government had withdrawn the previous final notification that was issued by the then BJP government which demarcated 245 wards. After withdrawal the new government reduced the number of wards to 225 and later issued draft notification. The new delimitation was done based on the 2011 population census and an average size of 37,000 people/ward.
BJP leaders plan to challenge
Satish Reddy, BJP MLA from Bommanahalli assembly constituency, said he would challenge the final notification in the court as it was “unscientific” and was done to “benefit the ruling party”. It can be recalled that Mr. Reddy had challenged the ward delimitation exercise done by the BJP government itself.
“In Bommanahalli the number of wards were reduced from 14 to 12 despite the high population demands more number of wards, while in BTM Layout which has a Congress MLA more number of wards were demarcated as against the required. This has been done unscientifically to favour the ruling party. “I will be challenging this delimitation notification in the court,” Mr. Reddy said.
N.R. Ramesh, another BJP leader said the residents of Thyagaraja Nagara will move the court challenging the process. Mr. Ramesh said that several booths in the area were found mentioned in both Yediyur, and Ganesh Mandir wards. He said these wards were in the Yediyur ward in the draft notification, but have now been added to another ward despite UDD not receiving any objection from the Yediyur ward. “This highlights the unscientific delimitation process which has also been prone to political manipulation,” he said.
Mr. Singh said they were open to rectifications even in the final notification.