Mohan Dasari speaks about the issues facing his constituency like illegal commercialisation and water scarcity, and how he plans to solve them.

BJP responsible for Kaggadasapura Lake mess Bengalurus CV Raman Nagar AAP candidateCourtesy: AAP media team
Karnataka Elections Profile Wednesday, May 09, 2018 - 14:11

Some interesting battle lines are being drawn ahead of the Karnataka elections which is fast approaching. One such electoral fight is poised to take place in the CV Raman Nagar constituency in central Bengaluru. Considered a four-way fight, the contest – between a three-time MLA, the city Mayor, a software engineer and a rebel – is holding everyone’s attention.

The software engineer, Mohan Dasari, is fighting for this seat on the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) ticket for polls which will take place on May 12. The constituency is a mixed zone, comprising IT employees, a large number of defence and public sector undertakings, upscale localities such as Indiranagar as well as slums.

Mohan is up against incumbent MLA S Raghu of the BJP (a three-time MLA who has won from this constituency alone in 2008 and 2013), Bengaluru Mayor R Sampath Raj of the Congress and P Ramesh, who joined the JD(S) after being denied a ticket from the Congress.

Speaking to TNM, Mohan justified his decision to contest from such a tough seat, saying, “We started this campaign around 6 months back and as part of our door-to-door outreach, have covered more than 65,000 houses out of 90,000. People are becoming aware of the issues in the area… we have reached people on social media also. Now, even the media has started realising that our party is a strong contender in CV Raman Nagar.”

Earlier setbacks

This is not Mohan Dasari’s first foray into politics. He fought as an independent candidate from Hagaribommanahalli (Bellary) in the 2013 Karnataka elections and later as an AAP candidate from Chitradurga in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but lost both times.

When asked about his previous experiences, Mohan says, “In 2013, I was just starting out. Coming from an NGO background, I had realised that NGOs can only be a helping hand and that one can do much more as an elected representative. So, those elections were a first step towards gaining visibility. Then, I joined AAP, and in 2014 I was asked to contest from Chitradurga, where we had no organisational strength or grass-root presence. Even in such a lonely fight, I got some 15,000 votes on the back of 15 days of campaigning. In Bengaluru, AAP did reasonably well in the CV Raman Nagar region, securing close to 9% votes, when we had campaigned for just a month. Clearly, people had wanted an alternative. So this time, we are putting in a lot more effort, we have better ground-level infrastructure and we have a wave here for the AAP.”

‘A proud Kannadiga’

The issue of Kannada pride has been one of the biggest talking points in this election, with the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah taking several steps, such as making Kannada compulsory in school education and unveiling the state flag, to project himself as the champion of the cause.

Mohan, on his Facebook page, declares himself a proud Kannadiga.

When asked to comment on Siddaramaiah’s steps, he says, “Politicising the issue is not a good thing. We all are proud Kannadigas and it will be a good thing if the state language is given priority over French or Spanish. We are not making it compulsory for the people who migrate here to learn Kannada but for the children who are brought up here. If you are brought up here, you should know Kannada.”

On the issue of the state flag, he observes, “Every state has a right to have its own state flag. The constitution does not prohibit it. Ever since the formation of Karnataka state, the idea of state flag was present… the flag was officially or unofficially always there. So, I support Siddaramaiah’s efforts on the flag and Kannada, but not their politicisation.”

Infrastructure issues

Asked about the lack of public transport to Bagmane Tech Park, Mohan says, “Our manifesto will focus on last-mile connectivity and ensure that Metro feeder buses are available from every part of the constituency to the tech park.”

When quizzed about the increasing encroachment of Kaggadasapura Lake and it being converted into a sewerage dump, the software engineer says, “The encroachment has happened over the last decade. The BJP politicians have systematically planned to kill this lake so that real estate companies can thrive here. The sewage going into the lake must be treated through Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), it needs to be de-weeded and de-silted, but no such steps were taken. They built a 40-feet pathway on the lakesides when the size of the road is 10 feet. Eventually, they planned to convert the pathways into roads in the name of road-widening, and shops and apartments would have come up on the roads. We, as citizen groups, managed to stop this illegal work. In his affidavit filed for the upcoming elections, MLA S Raghu has clearly mentioned joint land deals with Bagmane Builders. This builder has a lot of land around the lake, so they just need the connectivity, that is, roads.”

The residents of Indiranagar have been complaining of illegal pubs, bars, rooftop eateries and commercial establishments in the area and even presented a charter of demands to all the candidates contesting from the area.

Mohan claims, “They have thrown away all the rules. The state government had passed a notification stating that even a 40-ft road can have commercial activities. Even though the High Court stayed that order, people are using the notification to get trade and excise licenses. All the licenses are issued by the BBMP and the Excise department, so an MLA will have a say in that. This commercialisation has been going on for the last 15 years, thanks to the nexus between politicians and the owners of these commercial establishments.”

Commenting on the problem of water scarcity in the constituency, the AAP candidate blamed the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) saying, “There is no dearth of water for the constituency… the problem is because of the ties between the water tanker mafia, elected representatives and the BWSSB. We need to fix that. We will incentivise rainwater harvesting in the area also.”

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