The Karnataka government on Thursday notified expansion of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the city’s civic body, to 243 wards from 198, raising hopes for an election of the city corporation that has been without an elected council since September 2020.
“Government vide notification no UDD 73 BBS 2020 (E), dated 06-01-2021 has enacted The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Act, 2020, with effect from 11-01-2021. Accordingly, vide notification no UDD 17 BBL 2020 (Part I) (E), dated 21-01-2021 the government has fixed the number of wards of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike as 243. Further, vide notification no UDD 17 BBL2020 (Part-I) (E), dated 29-01-2021, the government has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, for delimitation of wards,” stated a government notification issued on Thursday.
The BJP government, under then chief minister BS Yediyurappa and incumbent chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, had received sharp criticism for not conducting the polls despite floods and crumbling infrastructure, leaving citizens fuming as there was no elected representative to address their grievances.
The ward delimitation committee has submitted its report to the state government on 09-06-2022 on delimitation of wards and the same has been accepted, which will redraw, carve out 45 new wards to accommodate the city’s growth and rising population to ensure equity of benefits and grants.
The notification will now be placed in public to call for any objections which will be reviewed by the government before a final notification and then the reservation process would begin, according to people aware of the developments.
The state government in May had told the Supreme Court, which is hearing a case in the matter, that elections could be held within 10 weeks, in which not just new wards would be drawn, but reservations for other backward classes (OBC) will also be included.
Bommai had announced the setting up of a commission to study political representation of backward classes. Justice Bhaktavatsala is heading the committee that has retired IAS official CR Chikmath as a member.
The delimitation process comes amid allegations from the opposition, particularly the Congress, that the BJP has been manipulating ward boundaries to split votes of minorities in some pockets of the city and engineer the whole exercise to help it secure not just a high number of seats in the BBMP council but also in next year’s assembly elections.
“We will get a hard copy of the notification and check the redrawing of ward boundaries and place any objections within the next few days,” Ramalinga Reddy, senior Congress legislator and working president of the party, told HT on Thursday.
“The government has accepted the delimitation and will place it in public domain for any objections. After the government has reviewed it, a final notification will be out,” said Padmanabha Reddy, a four-time corporator, who is now with the BJP.
He said the BJP will come back to power as it managed to get 101 seats out of the earlier 198 ward during the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2015.
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