Sunday, January 3, 2021

BBMP Elections: Planned Delay or Legal Mess?


1992, it’s been over 28 years since the 73rd & 74th Constitutional Amendments were made to empower every Village/Local body and strengthen Democracy from Panchyat to Parliament, and the Promised Land is still elusive.

Government of Karnataka hurriedly passed the New BBMP Act which many experts red flagged as a missed opportunity, what could have been a Landmark Act ended up as a copy & paste of KMC Act with fewer changes. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) term ended in September 2020, even though the new delimitation and reservations was ready for 198 Wards and the Honorable High Court asked the Government of Karnataka to conduct BBMP Elections, the Government of Karnataka used its Legislative powers to pass the New BBMP Bill without debate and deliberation forcing a further delay in conducting the BBMP Elections.

Even as Government of Karnataka misused its Legislative powers to delay the BBMP Elections what it is not saying or seeing is the Legal Mess it has put the BBMP into. As per the New BBMP Act all the Grama Panchayats (GP) that are in some of the Constituencies of Bengaluru will become part of the Greater Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (GBMP), which means these Grama Panchayats will be part of the 243 Wards of the GBMP.

But the real twist is in the recently held Grama Panchyat Elections and the upcoming Taluk Panchyat (TP) and Zilla Parshad (ZP) Elections, if Karnataka Government had the right intentions it should have stopped the Grama Panchyat Elections in the Constituencies that are slated to comes under the GBMP.

So, by allowing the Grama Panchyat Elections a Legal Mess is in the making, as and when Government of Karnataka is ready with the 243 Wards it cannot force out the already Elected Grama Panchyat Members, TP and ZP Members and hold Elections to the newly formed 243 Wards.

This curious case of BBMP is similar to the situation Tirupati Municipal Corporation had faced few years ago, when Elected Members of the Grama Panchyat that were to be merged into Tirupati Municipal Corporation when to Court demanding completion of their term, and Tirupati Municipal Corporation could not hold elections till the completion of the term of those Grama Panchayats. Similar case occurred in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and the Government delayed the inclusion of the Grama Panchayats that were still in term to avoid a possible Legal issues, reference of GHMC case was published in Times of India dated 17 July 2013 & Indian Express dated 18 July 2013.  

Serious questions indeed arise, was Government of Karnataka not aware of Legal situation at all, or was it all a deliberate plan to stall the BBMP Election further? What ever may be the City of Bengaluru is going to suffer, without a fully Elected Council and State Government is running BBMP through an Administrator with Zonal Joint Commissioners and Ward Nodal Officers who are literally Powerless.

It’s time that Honorable High Court of Karnataka to step in and pulls up Government of Karnataka for this treason, and order the Government of Karnataka to hold the elections in 198 Wards at the earliest. Government of Karnataka should also set the process rolling for the delimitation to form the 243 Wards at the end of 3 years so that as the term of BBMP and GP/TP/ZP ends in 2025/2026 the New BBMP Act can be fully adopted and implemented.

74th Constitutional Amendments was for devolution of Power and to make Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) like BBMP more independent and promote Local Governance, far from promoting Local Governance the ULBs are just paper Tigers with the remote control in the hands of Legislators and State Government.

Unless the Constitutionally promised power, de-centralization is not made a reality the Gandhian Vision of strengthening grassroot Democracy and self-rule will remain in the Acts and not in Deeds

- Kavitha Reddy,
  Activist, AICC Member & KPCC Spokesperson
  (views expressed are personal)

Published in Residents Watch