Bengaluru city's new Mayor and Deputy Mayor are both women

The two women won the election after a huge fight in the BBMP, with the Congress and JD(S) ganging up against the BJP.
Bengaluru city's new Mayor and Deputy Mayor are both women
Bengaluru city's new Mayor and Deputy Mayor are both women

In another instance of the Congress and JD(S) coming together to keep the BJP out in Karnataka, Congress corporator Gangambike Mallikarjun got elected as the 52nd Mayor of Bengaluru city on Friday. In a repeat of the 2017 elections, BJP staged a walkout ahead of the voice vote.  JD(S)’s Ramila Umashankar was elected as the Deputy Mayor. With this, it is for the first time that Bengaluru will have women occupying the post of Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

The elections were not short of drama with council members belonging to all the three major parties— Congress, BJP and the JD(S) engaging in a scuffle before the BJP walked out.

Explaining why the BJP walked out, party MLA Arvind Limbavalli said, “Few Congress MLCs and MPs didn't have vote in BBMP but last year they voted. The petition against that vote is pending and even now they are here to vote. We don't agree with that because of which we have walked out.”

Although BJP emerged the single largest party in the 198 ward council with 100 corporators, Gangambike backed by Congress heavyweight Ramalinga Reddy was a clear favourite. The BBMP Council is made up of 198 corporators representing each ward in Bengaluru but MPs MLAs and MLCs residing in Bengaluru can vote in this poll.

On paper, the BJP had 100 corporators, 3 Lok Sabha MPs, two Rajya Sabha MPs, 11 MLAs and 7 MLCs to vote for its candidate. This brought the BJP’s total tally to 123. BJP MPs from Karnataka, Nirmala Sitharaman and Ananth Kumar were absent.

Meanwhile, the Congress-JD(S) combine had 90 corporators, two Lok Sabha MPs, 7 Rajya Sabha MPs, 17 MLAs and 12 MLCs vote for Gangambike. However, with the BJP walking out, the two were elected unanimously.

The Congress-JD(S) combine managed to get 130 votes, while the magic number was 127 votes with a total of six eligible voters skipping the poll.

"There was no question of threat by the BJP because we always had the numbers. Three Congress leaders didn't make it in time. But we still won. It is a victory for congress not Ramalinga Reddy," the former Home Minister said after the offiicial announcement.

Gangambike, Jayanagar corporator has succeeded party colleague and DJ Halli corporator R Sampath Raj who bowed out of his role as Mayor after completing a stipulated year's term in charge. In the same arrangement, JD(S)’s Ramila Umashankar became the Deputy Mayor taking the baton from her party colleague Padmavati.

BJP had fielded Shobha Anjanappa, Padmanabha ward councillor as its candidate for Mayor and Nayandahalli corporator Pratibha Dhanraj as the candidate for Deputy Mayor.

The position for Bengaluru Mayor was reserved for a woman from the General category this year. The Congress decided to go with Lingayat (Veerashaivas) candidate Gangambike, following a meeting on Thursday evening. Gangambike also had the backing of senior Congress leader and All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa.

Incidentally, Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy was also pivotal in forging the JD(S)-Congress alliance within the BBMP in 2015 when none of the parties had a majority in the city council. The BJP emerged the single largest party with 100 seats in the 198 wards council, Congress managed to win 75 seats and JD(S) won 25. The rest eight seats were secured by independent candidates.

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