Eradication of huts and poverty are my focus: Uday Garudachar

The corporators work hard. And we are supposed to invigilate them. But it doesn’t work like a decentralised system, says Garudachar.

Uday Garudachar made his foray into politics in 2008 in Bihar, where he unsuccessfully contested a Rajya Sabha seat. An established name in the real estate and construction business, Garudachar then shifted his political gaze to his home state of Karnataka; in particular to Bengaluru’s Chickpet assembly constituency. As BJP candidate, he lost the 2013 election to R V Devraj. But managed to win in 2018 and now is once again the BJP candidate in Chickpet.

His political career has not been without controversy. In October 2022, Garudachar was sentenced to two months imprisonment, the appeal against which is pending, for withholding information in his election affidavit.

Garudachar’s business dealings too have not been without controversy, especially his company’s role in the Ejipura Slum Development project. Yet, the sauve entrepreneur is confident his work in his constituency will see him emerge victorious in these elections.

Citizen Matters interviewed Garudachar. He graduated from Bangalore University with a B.E. He has three cases filed against him and was convicted in one, related to a false affidavit filed for elections. 

Excerpts from the interview:

What were your priorities and plans when you won the elections in 2018 and how much of it have you been able to achieve?

The roads were atrocious and the drainage system was not in place for more than 35 years. Lighting at vantage points was not there. However, the first year of my tenure we were sitting in the opposition and the second and third year, COVID-19 struck. In the fourth and fifth year, the Chief Minister granted Rs 140 crores for the engineering work and we have now completed most of the roads; 80% of the drains have also been completed. If I am elected back, we will finish the rest of it too. 

The last time you filed your affidavit, it ran into rough waters. There is even a jail sentence that was handed out because you failed to disclose the exact details...

Let me explain this. When I submitted my financials, at the time there were some Rs 98 crores as assets listed and the cash component that was there in the bank at the time was approximately about Rs 2 crores or 3 crores. My lawyers and my CA failed to tell me that I had to write the amount as on date. The bank had debited locker charges about Rs 18,000 …I don’t remember it exactly now. That was the discrepancy in my affidavit. 

Uday Garudachar
Uday Garudachar’s business dealings have not been without controversy: Twitter/Udaygarudachar

I have a cantankerous cousin. My father’s younger sister’s son has been at odds with me. He found this discrepancy and filed a case in the court. 

But you are still out on bail and the appeal is pending…

We have now asked for the quashing of the charges itself. (The charges against Garudachar stated that he had failed to mention two pending criminal cases and that he was the managing director of a private company. An Additional Chief Metropolitan Court sentenced him to two months in prison and a fine of Rs 10,000. However since the sentence is less than two years, it allows for Garudachar to appeal to the Higher courts.) 

Read more: Interview: MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao says split BBMP up to decentralise decision-making

Another contentious issue in your constituency is the revamping of Gandhi Bazaar, which has run into a lot of criticism from stakeholders, who say they were not taken into confidence. 

The last time Gandhi Bazaar was developed was 60 years ago. Nothing has been done since then and so I took an appropriate decision about this project. From street vendors to other stakeholders, all of them have been counted and will be given space to run their business. We have had about 15 or 20 discussions with the stakeholders. Everybody said let’s do it. (but my conversations with the owners say they were not in favour of the project…) Asambhav. Nobody said that. They are turning away from what they said and that is not right. They did say, we could not do this and that (parts of the project) but it was understood that the project would go ahead. We have set aside about Rs 40 crores for the project. It should be completed by September or October this year. 

Another issue about the Gandhi Bazaar project was that in an effort to modernise the space, we have destroyed the cultural fabric of a heritage area of Bengaluru. 

These guys are talking nonsense. What do you mean there is no culture left? I had put the project in front of them and they agreed to it. It has gone ahead with the agreement of all the stakeholders, otherwise who will allow it?

The next topic is equally volatile. The Ejipura project. Where does it stand?

The Ejipura project was awarded to us a few years ago and we have already built about 400 houses for the Economically Weaker Sections. But there is a stumbling block at every turn, so what can I do? If they give me permissions for the commercial built up area in the project, I will begin work on the rest of the housing project immediately. We have some work going on but both of us (the BBMP) need to sort it out. Until then, I cannot do anything. 

Isn’t there a conflict of interest in you being an MLA and a businessman. To give you an example, the Lokayukta gave a directive to the BBMP to recover all the land that was given to Maverick Holdings (Garudachar’s company) for the project. As an MLA your administrative duties of following the order of a Constitutional body like the Lokayukta versus your business interests in the project.

Where is the conflict of interest? How can they take the land back? There are contractual obligations, which they have not fulfilled. Like the permissions in the timelines as stated by them… 

I get what you are saying. But prima facie, this directive by the Lokayukta is against your business interests. 

I call a spade a spade. I am a no nonsense businessman and no nonsense politician. What is stated according to the written agreement versus what is the status today is pretty clear cut.

The sprawling Kalasipalya is also part of your constituency, which got a brand new bus station. However the problem of private operators jamming up the roads continues?

We have done this station and handed it over to the BMTC/KSRTC. Now it is their responsibility to see that only their buses ply from there. I have told them a hundred times to sort the issue out and they keep telling me that they will get it done, but nothing has happened. (They don’t listen to you as an MLA?) You should try being an MLA once. Sometimes they procrastinate.

Can you give the main focus areas where you allocated funds from the MLA LAD funds during your tenure?

All the accounts have been handed over to the government and are available on their website. Roads and drains are the two important areas we have focused on.  

What is your take on decentralising the BBMP?

It is a decentralised system already. We have the corporators below us and the MPs above us. But there has been no council in place for the last three years, which is why we are doing the corporators’ work. The MLA is the most important. The corporators work hard. And we are supposed to invigilate them. But it doesn’t work like a decentralised system. 

BJP is seeing many senior leaders quitting the party. So how would you convince your voter to not only vote for a party that is undergoing so much turmoil, but also you as a candidate?

I believe a philosophy about life – 0 to 25 learning; 25- 50 earning; 50 onward returning. Anybody should not be there beyond three terms. We should allow for new people. (So what are your ambitions if you win three terms?) After my third term, I am out. I have massive business interests. As for why people should vote for me, in the last five years, people have seen my governance. I am accessible. I return every call. And I have compatibility with every community. I was born a brahmin, but I am equally comfortable in a mosque and a church. Secularism is an important part of our country (but your party is often accused of being communal). I am talking about me as an individual, not the party.  I have taken my oath on my constitution. 

What are you prioritising for this tenure, should you win? 

I don’t want to have slums in my constituency. Eradication of huts and poverty is my focus.I want everyone to have appropriate shelter, a roof over their heads… We have already built some good housing in Kalasipalya and hope to take it forward. 

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