After almost a year, the local power corridors of Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) will come back to life on Monday. This is after the city council largely dominated by BJP councilors elected corporator Diwakar Pandeshwar (cantonment ward) as the Mayor of Mangalore City and corporator Vedavathi (Kulai ward) as the Deputy Mayor.
Although the election for MCC was held on November 12, 2019 and the results were declared two days later on November 14, it took three-and-a-half months for the council to be formed.
Initially, the Karnataka State government took over a monthsâ€™ time to issue the gazette notification of the Corporators. The GOKâ€™s notice was published in the Gazette only in mid-January and this paved the way for the election of the mayor and deputy mayor of MCC.
However, soon another source of confusion prevailed in the local bureaucracy regarding the term related to reservations for the Mayor post. The state government led by former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in 2018 declared reservation for the 21st term of MCC Mayor. But the election never took place and the tenure of the 21st term of MCC Mayor elapsed in March 2019.
The elections for the 22nd term were held as per the rules framed for the 21st term, i.e., the post of mayor and deputy mayor were reserved for Backward Class (A) category and General (Woman) category. The election was scheduled for February 28 and BJP's Diwakar Pandeshwar emerged as the mayor.
Second innings for BJP
This will be the second term for BJP dominated councilors, who had first held the MCC term in 2008, but lost the subsequent polls in 2013. In November 2019, council elections were held across 60 wards in Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC). In a landslide victory, BJP clinched 44 seats, overthrowing the ruling Congress and reducing it to 14 seats. SDPI won the remaining two seats.
This was the highest ever majority won by the BJP in the MCC polls and one of the worst electoral outcomes for the Congress party. Of the past six terms, Congress has ruled five times and BJP only once from 2008 to 2013. With the defeat of Congress in MCC polls, the party lost the last major bastion among urban local bodies in the coastal region.
"Diwakar is the senior among those in BC (A) category (As per the government notification, the Mayor seat is reserved for BC (A) category this time). This is the third term he has won (council elections). Considering the seniority he had been shortlisted for the Mayor post,â€ť a senior BJP leader said.
The local election saw active participation from BJP leader and MLAs Vedavyas Kamath and Bharath Shetty, along with MP and state BJP Chief Nalini Kumar Kateel in fielding the candidates.
â€śThere was an anti-incumbency factor against Congress that played in our favor. Also people took note of BJPâ€™s development initiatives, in solid waste management, road widening and its beautification. We had got Rs 100 crore from the state government for two terms for the developmental works. This happened when BJP came to power in the state and MCC," senior BJP leader Premanand Shetty says.
A year without active council
In the absence of the previous MCC Council whose term ended on March 7 last year, the city was under the district administration. Though the normal working of the City Corporation would be unaffected as the IAS officer would continue to take all the decisions which otherwise a council would take, residents in Mangaluru said that the absence of elected representatives was felt.
"People have easy access to the Corporators. We are in a better position to tell our problem and the needs of the Corporators. They follow-up with the concerned department and get our work done. In the absence of the council, it is difficult to reach out to the officials. It is one year since we do not have a council and four months since we voted for new corporators," Sharath Shetty, a businessman said.
Story by Story Infinity (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP.)