People are questioning the need for the Chief Minister of Karnataka to administer the city, when he already has his hands full with the entire state and its problems.

Does Bengaluru need a minister and if yes should the CM even hold the post
news Politics Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 18:37

On Monday, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa allocated portfolios to 10 MLAs who won bye-elections, after getting the nod from the BJP leadership. A day later, he reshuffled some of these portfolios. However, the Bangalore Development and Town Planning portfolio was retained by the Chief Minister himself. 

During the Kumaraswamy regime, the portfolio was handled by Deputy Chief Minister Parameshwara. Under Siddaramaiah, it was Congress leader KJ George who became the minister for Bengaluru Development, although it was a highly controversial tenure.

While most of Bengaluru’s civic activists agree that the Chief Minister should not retain the portfolio, a few believe the ministry itself should be scrapped. 

“Bengaluru needs a dedicated minister. The city is too big and too complex and has several issues like infrastructure, mobility, waste, water, air pollution, environment and lakes are all crying for attention. It needs to be carefully headed by someone very conversant and proactive about solving urban issues. The CM may have had his compulsions. I hope he will pay attention to this and dedicate a very relevant person to this role. The city is the golden goose for the state in terms of tax collection, collecting over 60% of the state taxes. Special attention needs to be given, otherwise investments will move away and the rest of the state will also bear the brunt of it,” says Revathy Ashok, the CEO of Bangalore Political Action Committee or BPac.

Others say that instead of the Chief Minister getting involved in local governance, the people’s representative, the BBMP Mayor, should be the one who is in charge of administrative duties.

“The Bangalore Development Ministry must be abolished, and instead, the Mayor should be empowered to administer the city,” says Srinivas Alavilli, from Citizens for Bengaluru.

He adds, “They should give the Mayor a full term of five years and give him the duties as he or she is elected to do. Instead, there is lobbying for the Bangalore Development ministership. The previous minister in this post, KJ George, introduced the Steel flyover project which no one in the city asked for or wanted. Ministers should focus on the state and let the city be run by BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the city’s civic body.)”

Tara Krishnaswamy, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, says that the state government already holds too many powers related to the city, and this is already unconstitutional. “Local planning should happen at various different levels, and the current issue is that a person not locally elected is working for the local problems,” she says. 

She says the way things function has ensured that people’s power is marginalised. “The BBMP is submitting its budget of garbage and roads to the State government. This is like the State government submitting its budget to the Centre and seeking approval. Instead, the city should be declared as a district and we should have district level planning. What is happening instead is the person in charge of the Bengaluru BBMP is the BBMP Commissioner, a bureaucrat appointed by the minister (in this case, the Chief Minister). The Mayor should take charge of the city. The Chief Minister should administer the state and not the city.” Tara concludes.

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