With the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) all set for a special council meeting on Tuesday to form ward committees, workers of political parties have launched hectic lobbying for slots on the committees. With assembly elections due in four months, the move to for ward committees on a directive of the the Karnataka High Court is likely to be used by political parties as an opportunity to reward their party workers instead of ensuring fair representation of experts and committed citizens on the committees.
The high court has directed the BBMP to complete the process of forming ward committees by January 21. The idea of forming the committees in all the 198 wards was mooted with the intention of ensuring greater say of the citizens in decision-making about development works in the wards. According to BBMP sources, deputy chief minister R Ashoka and BJP city unit president Subbanna had a meeting with the BJP corporators to prepare a list of ward-level BJP workers for nomination to the ward committee.
Source said political parties appeared to have twin objectives in selecting their nominees on the committee. One is to appease the influential and well-to-do grass roots party workers, and the second is to keep out NGO representatives and experts with integrity who may monitor closely the proposals for projects and their implementation.
With the assembly elections approaching, parties want to keep their workers happy, even at the cost of defeating the purpose of setting up the ward committees. The BJP is preparing its list of nominees to the committees on a direction from member or Parliament Anantkumar.
When contacted, a senior BJP corporator admitted that the ward committee would have party workers, but denied that there would be no space for NGOs or external experts. “There will be 60 percent party workers in the ward committees,” he said and said the nominees would be chosen by party leaders, leaving the corporators with little say in the selection.
The corporator attempts to constitute ward committees in the 1990s had resulted in bitter experiences as the ward committees turned into “war committees”, with the corporators and committee members feuding constantly. Banashankari Temple ward corporator AH Basavaraju said each corporator has been assigned to choose suitable people for their respective ward committees.
Each ward committee will have 10 members and will be headed by the corporator. It will have representation of 2 from SC/ST, 2 from NGOs, 3 Men and 3 Women for each ward. The list will be given along with the address of the chosen candidates. After the BBMP Commissioner’s note the council will approve the list. Later, there will be a meeting in each ward where they will be nominated.