Elections for the post of Bengaluru Mayor and Deputy Mayor were held today and Jayanagar ward corporator Gangambike Devi of the Congress and Ramila Umashankar of the Janata Dal Secular, were elected to the posts, which were reserved for women this year. Once again, as they have done since 2015, the Congress and the JDS came together to keep the BJP out of the picture.
"Our dream is the development of the whole city. We will definitely work with representatives from all 198 wards," the newly-elected mayor told NDTV after her victory.
But the election process itself, as in previous years, underlined the political divide. City corporators as well as Bengaluru-based MLAs and MPs can vote. Like last year, the BJP shouted slogans and protested inside the council hall where voting was to take place. Afterwards, they staged a walkout without voting, questioning the voting rights of some who they say are not from Bengaluru.
BJP MLA, Ashwath Narayan, told NDTV "We had petitioned the Election Commission and the Presiding Officer that four of the MLCs - they are not eligible to be in the electoral roll since they reside in different districts and they have claimed the TA/DA benefits from the different address. They are not eligible to vote and should have been removed from the electoral rolls. But they have been allowed to vote. So we have opposed this and boycotted the election."
Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Rajiv Chandrashekhar said, "This is a strange situation - where the Municipal Council - the outcome is going to be affected by people who are outside Bangalore. It is a matter of principle that the BJP raised. How can five people who are registered outside of Bengaluru come here and determine the composition of the Council?"
But the Congress was dismissive of that stand.
"They would have lost the confidence... that their candidate will definitely lose... so they sensed defeat and walked out," Dr G Parameshwara, who is Karnataka's home minister, deputy chief minister and also minister in-charge of Bengaluru city, told NDTV.
Jairam Ramesh was one of those whose voting rights were being questioned by the BJP.
"I am surprised because this is the third time I am voting. This is the first time some objection has been raised. This is what they did last time. Defeat stared them in the face so they made a virtue out of an inevitability," he said.
Former union law minister, Veerappa Moily, also told NDTV, "Every time they do this. When they know that they are losing out, they just walk out after creating a ruckus. It is not a proper democratic practice. They have to challenge the voter list before the Court if there is any genuine, legitimate reason. "
In a city like Bengaluru with more than its share of civic woes, from unbearable traffic to polluted lakes, the people in charge of the city have a huge responsibility. And beyond politics, the priority needs to be the city itself.
"Both mayor and deputy mayor I congratulate and from the government we will give all support. And we will see that Bangalore issues are slowly resolved. Last one month there has been heavy rains and low -lying areas are flooding. Potholes. Drainage. All these are challenges before them. I will definitely be with them," Dr Parameshwara told NDTV.
When we asked about the city corporation, the BBMP, missing the High Court's deadline given by the High Court to it to fill all the potholes in the city, he said, "Continuously it is raining. The problem is the rain. Every day it has been raining so this problem continues. Once the rain stops, everything will disappear."
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