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Report on 'Suvarna Bengaluru Pranalike'

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This was organised by Janaagraha's Jaagte Raho campaign at 6 PM on Friday, the 19th Mar, at the Town Hall, Bengaluru, in the background of the BBMP elections being held on the coming Sunday (28th March,'10)  

On infrastructure
From Mr R V Deshpande of Congress to Ms Shabha Karandlaje to Mr Narayanaswamy of JD(S), all made claims of how they were responsible for building up the infrastructure for the city - from the Hebbal fly-over to the K R Puram cable-stayed fly-over, to the signal-free corridors, etc, etc. Towards the end, when a question raised by a participant as to 'where the pedestrian came into view in all of these', was put to them, suddenly, each made a u-turn and started talking about how they plan to make the city totally pedestrian and cycle friendly.

Well, to symbolise the entire polity's commitment to this changed approach, can a consensus be possibly arrived at to demolish the totally useless National College fly-over, apart from of course dropping the Tagore circle underpass and such useless projects?

On corruption
While the mainstream party representatives were mouthing standard homilies, I intervened to ask them to state their views on empowering the the Lok Ayukta. Immediately, each of the party spokespersons not only nodded his/ her agreement, but went on to elaborate about how they will support it.

Based on the same, can the citizens now demand passage of necessary legislation, in this connection, in the coming Assembly session?   

On faulty voters' list
Not getting an opportunity to raise this matter during the interaction session, I met up with Prof Rajeev Gowda, one of the Congress spokespersons who participated in the discussions, in the presence of Mr Jasmine Shah, Jaagte Raho campaign chief, to make the following point and seek his response.

The voters list, as it exists today, is totally unrepresentative of the voting population. With the representation, on an average, being less than 50%, even by SEC's own admission, of which an average of less than 50% cast their vote, the current process is representative of less than 25% of the eligible population, making for a totally unsatisfactory scenario. There needs to a total revamp of the system whereby any resident who has lived for more than the minimum 6 months in the state, and wishes to register as a voter, is facilitated to complete the process within a maximum of one week, and thereafter, his name appears on the list (accessible on the net), in all correctness, on the first of the month following the one in which his application form has been accepted.

Further, the web-site should be as user friendly as the one prepared by Pluma Software for SmartVote. And, if the SEC/ BBMP/ NIC combo is incapable of undertaking the job, it should be outsourced to a competent professional agency, quite like the Passport Office has entrusted most of its back-end work to TCS.

Prof Gowda nodded total agreement, and showed the relevant note to the same effect in their party manifesto (I didn't quite read it, and am therefore not sure if it says it all).

On water supply
Whereas Prof Gowda came up with the right kind of talk about rain-water harvesting, and re-cycling of water, etc, Madame Karandlaje talked about pumping water to Bangalore, Tumkur, etc from Arkavati, Kumudavati and the west-flowing rivers along the Western Ghats. Thankfully, Mr Narayanaswamy (JD,S) intervened to say that the waters in these rivers were not enough even for the riparian districts, because of which, the question of pumping water to Bangalore does not arise at all, and that he was in overall agreement with Prof Gowda's views in the matter.

Madame Karandlaje is now a powerful person in the party that is ruling the state. Very clearly, all she is interested is in mega projects, unmindful of the results or consequences, very clearly illustrative of the overall approach of the party as has been noticed from the time they came to power.

The overall organisation left a lot to be desired, with the function ending abruptly without the interaction session, and many members of the public venting out their fury over not getting an opportunity to make their points. Even with identifying myself as the Vice President of Lok Satta, which was putting up 5 candidates in the election, I too did not get a chance. Well, admittedly, organising such functions is not an easy a job either.

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