MP, MLA, Corporator enough, no need for fourth rep: R Ashoka

Transport Minister R Ashoka said this in response to being pressed on his party’s position on ABIDE’s proposal to have local areas within wards elect citizens into a ward committee chaired by the elected councilor.

Even as the Karnataka State Election Commission has announced the BBMP council elections schedule, one court case on ward reservation is pending at the Supreme Court. Alongside, the Chief Minister’s ABIDe (Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development) task force’s draft law, the Bengaluru Governance Bill 2009, is still hanging fire. This Bill talks of directly electing a Mayor and electing members to ward committees. But confusion looms large over this as some city politicos are not keen on having elected members on the ward committee.

Transport Minister R Ashoka. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal.

Amidst all the election-talk, Citizen Matters caught up with state Transport Minister R Ashoka. In this ten-minute interview, he speaks about taking on independent candidates, nominating ward committee members and his reported Mayoral-aspirations. During the interview, BBMP Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena, BJP MLA of Jayanagar and JP Nagar B N Vijaykumar and Kannada actor and BJP member Jaggesh were also present.

There is a lot of energy among resident welfare associations, citizens forums as well as urban poor workers unions to float independent candidates for the council elections. Margins last time around (2001) were very thin in many wards, and this time the wards are smaller. Many are frustrated with mainline parties. How is your party planning to fight the independent surge – especially among the well educated voters – this time?

I think independent candidates are a regular process. For any local body elections, gram panchayat, taluk panchayat, independent candidates are more than political party candidates. So I think that is not a problem. Depending upon the ward, it may increase. That will not (cause any) harm to national parties.

ABIDE reform proposes elections for ward committees. Some politicians are saying they don’t want elected people on ward committees other than the ward councillor. What is your take?

No, already, for any constituency we have MP, Lok Sabha member, and there is MLA for Vidhan Sabha, and then corporators are there for city council. So already three elected members are there. I think one more (level) is not….scientifically it is not good. And last time we have nominated some ward councilors also. That is also problematic. So I think someone further at the low-level, as an elected member, is not necessary. Nominating is better, I think.

Has this been discussed widely in your party? Is there a consensus?

Ashoka’s initial response to this question was to merely state once more that ward committee elections was not possible. On being pressed with whether his party has discussed it, Ashoka went on to state that the matter is being discussed with party members and also among the leadership.

On asking him if there is some trouble discussing the topic of ward committees, he said there is no problem and that they have almost come to a conclusion. On further questioning him about the opportunities that ward committee elections could open up to the ‘educated’ public and youth, this is what he had to say.

Normally I think in Corporation election almost all youngsters will come. So I think there is no problem.

What are your thoughts on the direct election of a mayor, but with expanded powers?

That is a good, good suggestion from the Kasturirangan report. But already (High) Court directed Government of Karnataka, to conduct immediate elections. So I think mayor-in-council will happen. You have to make a separate Act for Bangalore. In Mumbai, Delhi, West Bengal, etc., they have separate Acts for their city. We have no Act.

So this needs more time. The (High) Court already directed to do immediate elections. It’s (a new Act) is not possible now.

(The Kasturirangan Committee preceded ABIDE and originally proposed a directly elected mayor for Bengaluru. The latter made broadly similar-minded recommendations for city reforms, with many recommendations on the lines of the former.)

What kind of powers would you like the mayor to have?

Now this is not a discussing point.

Are you looking at running for the post of mayor?

No, I’m not.   ⊕

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Comments:

  1. S.P.Swamynathan says:

    An addition from the Citizen side will hinder the action of MP MLA corporator
    in accumulating assets/money. As I understand to be a candidate for election they have to shel-out hefty amou8nt. This has to be recovered and + for his use. I was over hearing, while taking a stroll, some persons who have switched over to BJP has to be b(r)ought back. You can see what will happen. Jagate raho or No jagateraho

  2. Pramod Naik says:

    Thanks Ms. Vittal for your public service in exposing this half-baked Minister who’s incharge of Bangalore! I think Ashok makes strong attempts to show that he knows a few words of English, but it makes hilarious reading for us all. He’s as much a **** as all the others and he is just looking at the potential cash-flow situation for himself.

  3. Srikanth Parthasarathy says:

    Thanks for these excellent interviews. Unfortunately, all politicians are same while responding. Nothing good can be expected.

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