Will prioritise ORR, suburban rail: Mansoor Ali Khan, Congress candidate, Bangalore Central

Mansoor Ali Khan claims that it's time for a 'guarantee wave', not a 'Modi wave'. He says he will prioritise education and infrastructure.
Mansoor Ali Khan, Congress candidate, Bangalore Central
Mansoor Ali Khan, Congress candidate, Bangalore Central
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Written by Harshitha Padmavinod

Mansoor Ali Khan, from Indian National Congress (INC), is all set to contest for Bangalore Central Parliamentary Constituency this Lok Sabha Elections. In an interview with Citizen Matters, Mansoor spoke about his plans for his constituency if he gets elected as MP and the key issues he would like to address.

While BJP has consistently won in Bangalore Central for the past 20 years, Mansoor says that this Lok Sabha election, BJP’s term will end and a new path for Congress will be paved. Mansoor, who is General Secretary of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee since 2022, is a passionate educationist, who has been the general secretary for CBSE schools in the city. He aims to provide affordable and quality education for students across the state.

Excerpts from the interview:

During a recent campaign run, you mentioned that you will “ensure (central) funds come for projects on time.” What are the projects that you will prioritise?

I am very clear that I will prioritise infrastructure projects like the Outer Ring Road (ORR), suburban rail and address the issue of funds being allocated at a slow pace for the metro. I would also like to focus on the pending funds for the development of rejuvenation of lakes and ground water, and reviving Bengaluru’s green cover. For example, if you look at areas like Mahadevapura, where is the green cover? The lakes are drying up, there is no water and there are no parks. I want to work towards restoring the ‘green lungs’ of Bengaluru. These will be my top priorities. If I have to mention it briefly, it will be to focus on sustainability, infrastructure, education and health.

With regard to education, you have had long experience in the field. What is that one thing you will push the union government to do?

I will push the Union government and the Finance Ministry to invest more in the education sector. 2.5% of GDP for education is not sufficient, we need around 6 % of GDP for education. I will definitely be pursuing that.

What is your take on the National Education Policy (NEP), based on your personal experience?

NEP was introduced in 2020. It is one thing as a policy, but implementing it is difficult. There are certain aspects that have to be looked into. NEP needs an relook overall. Implementing it at the primary level is challenging. It was not successfully implemented by Karnataka at a higher-level education, for example, in engineering colleges, medical colleges. NEP is not just for institutions, it requires structural changes at the government level, but where is it happening? The will of the government should be to change itself and the structure of NEP first. The policy needs to be redone, as it was last done in 1996.

Another issue with NEP is there has been no proper consultation process. I have been a part of the education system and have been the general secretary of CBSE schools, and we were not even properly informed about the consultation process.

You talk about “practical and inclusive solutions for Bengaluru’s growth and well-being.” Could you tell us two top items you will make happen in your constituency, which are “practical and inclusive” that you can guarantee?

I would like to get more funds for Bengaluru and Karnataka; without funds infrastructure projects cannot be completed quickly. We are one of the highest taxpayers in India, so we need to get much more in return. We get only 13 rupees for every 100 rupees we pay. Even when the Finance Commission gives recommendations, the Union Ministry does not give us the funds. With the drought situation, Rs. 19,000 crores was requested, but the funds were not allotted to us. What is striking is that none of the 25 BJP MPs had the courage to talk in the Parliament or go to the Finance Minister or the Prime Minister and ask for funds for Karnataka. So, the people of Karnataka, after electing 25 BJP MPs were completely led down. If I was in the house, I would have argued and debated on the floor of the house.

Your constituency has some of the biggest peri-urban areas, added as part of 110 villages. They face more challenges, especially traffic and water problems compared to other areas. Can you share one policy suggestion or plan that the centre must take up to ensure peri-urban areas in the country are developed more sustainably and equitably?

People migrate from all over the country to Bengaluru. The development of the city is not just a state subject, but a central subject too. We have a decent share of the state funds, but the central funds are not coming. When migration happens at such a large scale, it is natural for issues like water shortage and traffic jams to occur. For example, in areas like Mahadevapura, it is clogged. Traffic and water are huge concerns there. So, how do you solve these problems? We need a mass transport system, but to implement that we need money.

We need to build faster metro, good roads and pavements to walk. For all these to become a reality, we need money. Even for the rejuvenation of lakes, we need money. The Union government should also make sure Bengaluru receives its fund. These are my priorities.

How do you intend to utilise your MPLAD funds in your constituency?

I will use my MPLAD funds for education, healthcare and other developmental activities. I will be accountable and will use every penny for the welfare of the constituency.

The Congress last won a seat from Bengaluru way back in 1999. What stands out in your approach in this election? What is your unique selling proposition?

Congress’ five guarantees are working well on the ground. We got more votes than the BJP in the Assembly Elections. In the 2019 elections, we had a really good tussle and lost very narrowly because of some issues at the national level, which were beyond our control. I’m sure this time we will be in a comfortable position to win the elections.

One of the major roles of an MP is to approve and oversee the revenues and expenditures proposed by the government through the Union Budget. What are the three key budget allocations that you would push to increase with an eye on pressing urban challenges and concerns today?

I would push budget allocation for infrastructure projects, education and healthcare on priority. Infrastructural projects would imply green infrastructure, even if we need to acquire land for lakes and green spaces, that is also something I will look into. When I say infrastructure, it includes sustainable development along with green cover and lake and park development.

Speaking of infrastructure, the metro typically gets mentioned in all Union budgets. What will you do to ensure all options for local commute, including bus, suburban rail and non-motorised transport options like cycling and walking, gets due attention, guided by a unified transport plan?

We require more funds for this development. Considering the amount of revenue Bengaluru is generating today, we will require a decent share to develop these projects. Today, because of issues like traffic and water scarcity, people do not want to come to Bengaluru. Companies do not want to settle here. How will you make it a better place if you’re not ready to invest in one of the topmost cities, which is giving you bulky revenue? You cannot let Bengaluru become incompetent. Hence, we need funds. An MP can ask that in the floor of the house or can create a pressure group. For that, you need the vision and the passion to accomplish things.

In the scenario that you are elected and are a member of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, how do you plan to ensure that the funds reach Bengaluru?

First of all, I don’t think I’ll be in the Opposition, but will be in the Ruling party. But since you’ve asked me this question, I will answer accordingly. A Member of the Parliament will have to learn the art to pursue. First, you need to have a good relationship in the Parliament to get the funds, you have to make sure you mount enough pressure to get the funds. You are not doing anything for personal reasons, it’s a matter of your constituency, city and the state. You will need to be good at the art of negotiation.

Coming back to the focus of the constituency, you’re contesting from Bangalore Central, what major changes do envision?

I will primarily focus on the development of the mass transport system. The discussion on the suburban rail has been going on for the last 10 years without any progress. Metro, especially towards Mahadevapura, from Hoskote to Doddabommasandra may require another line. The Sarjapur line has to be processed as soon as possible because it has still not received permission. These are on my priority list.

What is your personal goal in life, beyond political life?

Ultimately, my personal goal in life is making a change in the education system in India. I’m very passionate about setting up educational institutions and spaces. Irrespective of whether I become the MP or not, my passion for education will not diminish. My real goal will be to create a system where a child would get quality education at an affordable price and also the state coming up with high quality schools. Education is my first love and will always be my passion.

Do you have any concluding comments you want to convey to the readers?

I would like to conclude by saying that know your candidate, know what their plan is, check their track record and vote wisely. Vote with the intention that you need the best candidate to win, and voting should not be based on certain factors like caste, culture, creed or religion, it should be based on performance alone. May the best candidate be voted and may the best candidate win.

This story has been republished from citizenmatters with their permission. The original article can be read here.

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