Will Congress plan of exclusive minister for Bengaluru solve the city's problems

One view is that Congress wants to counter-balance BJP's clout in the city
Will Congress plan of exclusive minister for Bengaluru solve the city's problems
Will Congress plan of exclusive minister for Bengaluru solve the city's problems
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Some days before the Bengaluru civic polls Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters that an exclusive minister may be appointed for the capital, creating a buzz in the city.

While the demand for a separate minister for Bengaluru has been made from time to time, others are asking whether it would actually change anything for the city.

Member of the Loksatta Party Ashwin Mahesh told The News Minute that such a post would “not be totally useless”, but was skeptical of the move’s effectiveness in addressing the city’s problems. “It’s like sending your son to a science college when he wants to study architecture.”

In his view, there are two fundamental problems with the city. “We don’t have a plan for the city, and we don’t know what we are trying to achieve. Secondly, we don’t have people participating in finding solutions to problems. Even if there is a minister, what will the minister do without a plan?”

Asked what he meant in terms of a plan, Mahesh said that clear quantifiable goals needed to be set along the specific measures to achieve those goals. “For instance, we will create (x) capacity through the following measures.”

Political scientist Sandeep Shastri however, thinks the move would be an exercise in damage control by the Congress. “Given Bengaluru’s size and the population of the city, and having lost the elections, it would be politically prudent to give greater importance to the city.”

However, he thought that it would also be a way for the Congress to ensure that it too, had the means to exercise its clout in the administration of the city, in the wake of the BJP’s win in the civic polls. “An exclusive minister would allow for strategizing and maneuvering on the part of the Congress because otherwise, the BJP would have complete control over the BBMP. It’s an important signal that the party and the government want to send.”

The idea for a Bengaluru minister, however, is not new. Since Vokkaliga leader S M Krishna became chief minister in 1999, the chief minister has held the portfolio of Bengaluru city development. Since then, the proposal has been hanging fire. Two years ago civic lobby group BPAC made a demand for an exclusive minister for the city.

According to Shastri, the idea for an exclusive minister for the city is rooted in the dilemma that politicians have had about their rural and urban supporters. He pointed out that it was the Janata Dal government between 1994-99 which created the post (H D Deve Gowda was the chief minister for two years before he became prime minister and had J H Patel take over).

“The Janata Dal government saw it as a way to placate an important segment of its supporters. But in SM Kirshna’s time, this actually boomeranged on him because he created the Bangalore Agenda Task Force, eventually creating a perception among his rural supporters that he cared more about the urban people. This has always been a problem with political parties – how to balance their rural and urban supporters. They’ve never really been able to take both along (with them).”

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