news Monday, April 20, 2015 - 05:30
Hundreds of local residents on Sunday urged the Karnataka government to hold free, fair and timely civic elections to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) as directed by the high court. "The state government should not play politics but respect the constitution and the high court, which has directed it to hold the civic poll in the 198 wards across the city by May 30," Namma Bengaluru Foundation chief executive Sridhar Pabbisetty said. About 5,000 people, representing a confederation of 1,200 resident welfare associations across the city, participated in the protest demonstration at Town Hall in the city centre against the government's order on Saturday night, superseding the BBMP and appointing senior IAS officer T.M. Vijay Bhaskar as its administrator four days before its five-year term was to end on April 22. The government also replaced incumbent BBMP commissioner M. Lakshminarayana with IAS officer G. Kumar Naik, citing financial irregularities and scams estimated to be in hundreds of crores of rupees in the BJP-ruled civic administration. "Superseding the civic body five days ahead of its term ending is arbitrary, mala fide and a dilatory tactic to delay election to the BBMP wards across the city. The citizens of this 10-million cosmopolitan city have a right to elect their local representatives (corporators)," Pabbisetty said at the protest meet. Though a single bench of the Karnataka High Court on March 30 directed the state government to hold the civic election by May 30, the state had appealed against the order before a division bench, seeking six months for holding the poll as the delimitation exercise in all the 198 civic wards was not completed as per the latest census. The division bench, headed by Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice Ram Mohan Reddy, on April 15 declined to interfere with the order of the single bench headed by Justice B.V. Nagarathna on holding the civic poll by May 30 and adjourned the case for further hearing to Monday. The state government has also convened on Monday a one-day special session of the legislature to amend the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act 1976, through a bill to trifurcate the BBMP, as Governor Vajubhai Vala declined to issue an ordinance to that effect last week. The BBMP was expanded in 2007 by including seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council and 111 surrounding villages to increase the number of civic wards to 198 from the earlier 100. "We have been watching the Congress government using the excuse of trifurcation of the BBMP to delay the poll, as the ruling party fears the situation is not favourable to it in getting majority in the civic body if the poll is held by May," Pabbisetty noted. Contending that the state cabinet decision to supersede the civic body and appoint an administrator to run it in place of an elected body reeked of a larger conspiracy to sideline urban self-governance, the foundation said the state had shown disregard to the democratic principles enshrined in the constitution. "The decision to supersede the BBMP and to trifurcate it shows the state government's intent to circumvent the judicial process and side-step the electoral process. It also goes against the 74th constitutional amendment, which requires elections to urban local bodies to be held in time," Pabbisetty added. IANS