What our MP candidates say – a key comparison

Bangalore Central candidates at the BPAC debate. Pic: Shree D N

Here are the Bangalore Central MP candidates’ responses to common questions about the Lok Sabha General Elections 2014. This has been compiled by Bellandur ward resident, Nagesh.

Candidates from all major political parties were asked some direct questions at the BPAC meet. A citizens’ team from Bellandur emailed them a questionnaire. This document lists the verbatim responses of the candidates for both series of questions. Before you go through these responses, a few cautionary notes:

  • The statements are reproduced “as is” basis. A fact-check may reveal that some of the claims are unfounded; and some grand ideas cannot be implemented.
  • Many of the statements made by the candidates refer to the lower layers of government: State government and BBMP. Since an MP has no control in these areas, they cannot be taken at face value.
  • Beware of the motherhood statements and tokenism: Everyone is going to promise road, water, lakes, jobs. No one is going to say “I am pro-corruption”.
  • A candidate may articulate a vision (“we need to …”) but does he/she articulate how to achieve it as an MP without any preconditions? In this context, does the candidate have a creditable past track-record? (The achievements may be in a different field)
  • We should not have a romanticised ideas of how any MP “performs” in the Parliament. Parliamentary procedure does not allow any MP to introduce unlimited number of private bills, or make speeches whenever he wants. An MP has to work within a lot of constraints: He has to table his proposals, which are put in a queue and put up for vote (ranking). Only the few top-ranking issues are taken up for debate, and the rest are dropped. Only one hour is given for such debates on two days of the week while the Parliament is in session. Most of this time is consumed by the party leaders. This is why you may rarely see an average MP speaking eloquently in the House: Only star MPs get that chance.
  • Do not place too much emphasis on the MPLAD budget.

    • Last year, our Union Budget was Rs. 16,58,000 Crores (= 3,042 Crore per MP), and the Rail Budget was an additional Rs. 64,305 Crores (= 117 Crore per MP). In other words, each MP is supposed to review and control spending of 8,000,000 Crores during his five-year term (on average, each MP will get Rs 16,000 Crores in his constituency during his term). Note that all this money comes from the public. That means, we can lessen our taxes if we are allowed to monitor the government spending. So where would you rather focus: On Rs. 16,000 Crores or 25 Crores?
    • Secondly, the MP’s fund is spent on projects that already have a HUGE annual budget by the state government or BBMP (for example, while an MP spends about 15 crores on roads over his five-year term, BBMP spends a whopping Rs 4,500 Crores in his constituency over the same period). So what is the point of having a 0.3% additional fund, and then dispensing it totally arbitrarily?
    • Thirdly, there is no process (or criteria) for allocating the MPLAD fund. As a result, the MP spends this amount without any accountability; like a patron, not like a public servant. When some public structure is created with MPLAD money (e.g. a bus stop), some MPs even put up a large permanent board with their name on it, as if it is their personal donation to the community!
    • Finally, the MPLAD does not reflect how well an MP does his core jobs: (a) To legislate and (b) to control the Union Budget.
    • To sum up, unless the present MPLAD Scheme is reformed drastically, it cannot be used to rate the performance of an MP.

Responses at the BPAC meet

AAP

BJP

JDS

INC

Q1: Why do you consider yourself  a good candidate?

I have no legacy to defend. We need new perspective, fresh thinking. Now the governance is dominated by too many vested interests at play. We aim to bring in the Swaraj model in local governance and spending. Social audit is important. If a politician asks people what they want problem is solved – the money will be well-spent. Mayor should take ownership of the city. This is what I aim for. If you need change you have to vote for us.

I have played a role in completing Metro Reach 1 and Reach 3. I have brought 500 MLD of water to Bangalore. To control traffic, I have introduced more KSRTC buses using JNNURM funds. I have taken initiatives to see that the city railway station is upgraded to international standards.

I am a daughter of the city. I am concerned and upset about the situation. As a woman representative, I have decided to contest. I will concentrate on water – the situation is alarming and serious. Arkavathi is dry. There are not enough reservoirs for water. A comprehensive water plan — storage, conservation and recycling — is needed. Power is the next problem. We need a dedicated power plant to generate 2300 MW. Power transport and distribution issues need to be addressed. Garbage is another issue to be solved. Vocational training and job creation will also be on my focus.

I’m not prepared to give a long answer on why I should contest. I’m a common man, youngster, and want to address the issues that youngsters face. Traffic, footpaths, garbage etc need to be solved. As an MP, I would have a two-pronged approach: To coordinate between different agencies.

Bangalore is competing with London, Boston as global cities. I don’t want to sit doing a corporator’s job. We need a strong voice that pushes Bangalore as a city that competes with Boston – I will be the most vocal voice in the parliament.

Q2: What important issues have you identified and how will you resolve these if you become MP?

Whitefield has so many borewells but no water. How long will bore wells give water if there is no water recharge? How long can we keep bringing water? We need to plan for future. Tender scams should not start. Each MP gets 5 crore. But people have no say on how he spends it. I will create such an opportunity that can help people participate in deciding how to spend it.

BBMP is bankrupt. Because extra money is spent on roads and unwanted programmes. A good road requires only Rs 2 crore per km. Lake encroachments need to be cleared. There is water mafia, garbage mafia etc. All mafia have to be broken. Any programme has 5% of strategy and rest of it — 95% is the implementation. Vision groups don’t achieve anything. Thousands of ideas and solutions already exist. It is the implementation that counts. There is a constitutional mandate to form local planning committees (ward committees) that solve the problem.

Traffic is the biggest problem. I have proposed suburban trains to handle traffic. I will work to bring gas-based power plants at Bidadi. I have also proposed a coordination committee between BMTC, Metro and railway to have feeder systems.

Regarding Solid Waste Management, I propose to revive the 8 MW power plant at Mandur to handle garbage disposal. I will plan to develop small scale industries to generate employment

In the field of education, I will bring more Kendriya Vidyalaya-like and CBSE schools to Bangalore. I will also focus on treated water to be left in lakes to increase ground water table.

We have many resources from over 350 schemes from Centre. But we lack political will to bring funds to Bangalore. Over 45% of the population is living in pathetic conditions. A comprehensive plan that includes everybody is required. Now there is so much funds that the Centre is giving, but the governments are not able to bring funding from the union government. We lack transparency and political will. There is Rs 126,000 crores in National Skill Development Corporation but we haven’t brought even 10 crores to Bangalore out of this. If I can be an organiser and leader in my party, if my temperament is like that of a watch dog, I will be able to get the things done. It is team work, starting from grassroots. Women empowerment, small industries are to be focussed on. Malnutrition should be countered, microfinance and cooperative banking are to be focussed on.

Bangalore Central is a constituency with diverse demographics and diversity. We cannot have a uniform approach towards it. I want a vision group for Bangalore Central. Citizens can participate, give ideas, use expertise. I would like to create a “by the people, for the people” platform.

Q3: What issues of Bangalore Central will you raise in the parliament?

I will get sufficient allocation of funds and make sure it is spent wisely and properly. Law and order, police reforms, judicial reforms – doubling the number of judges, a clean honest government is the starting point. Fear of law is required – half the crimes will come down.

Above all – we will make sure that when your kids watch Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha TV, they (will) feel proud! We will behave responsibly!

I will bring more funds to Bangalore. As you know the government had many scams. There were protests. 75% of the time, parliament did not function. All the scams made us raise the issues in parliament. No head of government to drive things, that is why there was disturbance.

Suicide numbers are increasing. So counselling, investing in social infrastructure etc are required. Schooling is very good for some, and very mediocre in some areas. Corporation schools can get adopted. There are many things to be done – let’s work focussed. There are 10 lakh women voters, but they lack safety and dignity. We have to provide them (support), by empowering them.

Five years is a huge time. Focus is on all issues. After 1998, Bangalore started growing. From 2004 to 2014, there was political instability, with coalition governments running the Centre. Bangalore needs lot of attention and lot of growth. Government was ready to give any amount, but there was no plan. So a vision group is required for Bangalore. I would like to highlight all good issues.

Q4: What is your dream for Bangalore?

Retain brand Bangalore, good walkable city, garden city, footpath, roads, transport etc. A city livable for all.

Suburban trains, coordination with Metro, BMTC, feeder connectivity, more funds from centre, housing for urban poor

Nuclear families and no bonding, cynicism is the result. Enough of cynicism. We should take ownership of the city. Each one of us needs to show allegiance – by joining political parties and becoming leaders. A culturally vibrant creative innovative city can produce leaders.

Street lights, women police officers, patrolling, common ideas, extension of nightlife etc.

Responses to direct email questions

AAP

BJP

JDS

INC

Q1: If you get elected, what will you do, to prove to voters that you are honest and communicate to us about your work transparently? Will you commit to a monthly communication – email/website and/or public meeting? How can we residents send you our concerns and how will you act on those concerns?

I am committed to bring transparency in allocation, deployment, usage of all Government funds. I will make public aware, not only about my work, but also all tender details, status of projects and execution/quality standards and penalties on not meeting them. This will help citizens get involved in monitoring and evaluation of every work that affect them.

The AAP came into existence on the base principle of ‘SWARAJ’ and it goes without saying that we will be holding Janasabha with the people on regular basis. I am committed to on-going communication via meetings, email/website – Google Hangouts, etc. I will also put appropriate process & system to gather issues/compliant and tracking them to closure.

There will be monthly updates on our official site and associated social networks we had initiated this in the last term.

We propose setting up a coordination centre in conjunction with the ward committees we believe the feedback must come through the ward committees and gram sabhas. This centre will collect data and what pertains to legislation and larger discourse at MP level will be attended to . The Civic issues if requires intervention from MP or MPLADS funds will be addressed through this centre and us.

I will be launching a Citizens Connect platform shortly specifically to hear Citizen concerns and issues. This platform will have an office in each of the Assembly constituencies under Bangalore Central. Citizens can also publish their questions on my website / Facebook or send email to ensure that there is an interactive dialogue between us. As an MP I am allowed to seek funds from Central schemes for the betterment of my constituency. I shall publish a list of these schemes on my website (and Citizen Connect centers) to create awareness on the rights of the citizens and the various government schemes available.

There will be monthly updates on my official site and associated social networks.

We plan to bring out a quarterly newsletter highlighting the main events/ developments/ grievances from that period.

I propose setting up a vision group consisting of experts and leaders for the entire constituency. This team will collate and streamline data, research information and provide feedback. We hope this will make administration more accessible.

Q2: How will you ensure public participation – i.e. include us citizens of Bangalore Central – Bellandur ward – for policy-level decisions if you get elected again?

Bangalore is blessed with vibrant civic groups, right from Resident Welfare Associations to larger Pan Bangalore organisations like Citizen Action Forum, CIVIC, BRACE, BPAC, Janagraha, Hasiru Usiru, Environmental Support Group amongst many others. We will work with and through the current Eco system to identify and address basic civic issues as well as remove corruption.

Also, for broader involvement and participation of Citizens, we can set up technology-based solutions – including google hangouts, twitter conferences, online referendum etc., to get inputs from Citizens on the bills and projects discussed in the Parliament.

Our coordination centre and me are always accessible on my email and our official pages and via our various cells or prakoshta people who are essentially professionals giving voluntary service to the party and suggesting technology to the elected reps.

As mentioned above, I would like to hear grievances from citizens through my website and Citizen Connect centers. I would influence the concerned bodies through my position to address them. For Policy related matters, I would be open to suggestions & feedback that I can take up in the Parliament. I would build a polling mechanism to prioritize the issues.

There is bound to be public participation through the vision group consisting of experts and leaders for the entire constituency. This team will collate and streamline data, research information and provide feedback. We hope this will make administration more accessible.

This would empower you and the expert panels

My team and I will also be accessible on my email and my official pages on social sites.

Q3: What is your opinion on MPLADS? If you think it serves a purpose, how can it be used effectively and not on things BBMP should be doing anyways? How will you get citizen inputs on where it should be spent?

I will spend MPLAD funds in a transparent manner, with the following process –

Spend areas will be decided after open discussion with people in Bangalore Central constituency.

All tendering and execution details and photographs of constructed infrastructure will be available online for all citizens to see.

We will do a social audit to measure the impact after implementations which will be available online.

There are more than some 100 slums in Bangalore central. They lack basic amenities like potable water and power. The garbage and over flowing drainage is a big issue in slums – and causing health hazard to slums as well as other residential areas surrounding the slums. With citizen consultation, part of MPLAD funds could be spent in slums to improve their quality of living. The slum dwellers are seen as a vote bank with no improvement in their quality of life. They are entitled to dignity of living. They have lost all hopes on the government. The money power and muscle power is rampant and they live in constant threat. We have to make sure that they get their dignity back and get decent quality of living.

In addition to spending MPLAD funds in the above manner, I am committed to establish more citizen participation in all wards in Bangalore Central so that the citizens get more voice in how BBMP functions – and how BBMP funds are used.

Under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS),there needs to be larger consultation on its utilisation. That is currently not happening . We prefer that priority works like water and sewage augmentation, Transport, Lakes and parks and essential services be channelized through the MPLADS.

The primary objective of MPLADs funds is to execute the development works of capital nature based on locally felt needs with creation of durable assets. (http://mplads.nic.in/dpguid.htm).

Each MP is given Rs 5 crores only each year that he/she can spend on pressing needs in the constituency. To address the needs of my constituency I have planned the following approach:-

Leverage the MPLAD funds as Seed funding and seek additional capital through PPP (Public Private Partnership)

Seek funds from key Central government schemes like the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban

Renewable Mission (JNNURM – the pivotal scheme commissioned by the ministry of urban development) under which pressing issues like power, housing, roads, water supply, mass transportation, sanitation and solid waste management are addressed. Other scheme is the Rajiv AwasYojanathat is exclusively meant for Urban housing and rehabilitation of slum dwellers.

There are many such schemes running into thousands from which a MP can seek funds. But he/she needs to have a political will to leverage them. This would be one of my core agendas.

Under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), some very important initiatives can be addressed. I would like to encourage water table recharging facilities to help the Bellandur Lake. Also on my agenda are initiatives like shelters for senior citizens, and encouraging local sports and cultural activities.

Q4: For us, groundwater recharge, cleaning up of Bellandur Lake and sustainable development are important. How will you use your MPLAD funds to help us?

If there was only one item on my wish list it would be WATER, and WATER FOR ALL i.e., to every household in Bengaluru city. Many citizens do not know that the very existence of Bengaluru is threatened by impending shortage of water. The urgency of this issue cannot be overstressed. A series of insensitive and Land Mafia led actions have killed most of our lakes. And a system of clean healthy lakes, including Bellandur Lake, in turn replenishing ground water is the only real long-term solution.

Closely along with Lake Rejuvenation, the other measure is City Wide Rain Water Harvesting. Independent building rain water harvesting is only one small part of rain water harvesting.

The third angle here is grossly inefficient running of the BWSSB. The absence and breakdown of Underground Drainage Systems (UGD) and sewage finding their way into storm water drains is the singular reason for our currently unhealthy lakes.

Lake encroachment, wetland encroachment and Raj kaluves destruction by some of the unprincipled players in the real estate with connivance of politicians and bureaucracy, creates the final death knell for our lakes. Legislation, political will and constant citizen voice is needed to top this.

Amongst other measures would be regulation of the water tanker industry. Most parts of the city is kept starved of water to encourage water mafia. We need to change this and make sure every household is provided access to quality water. We need to break the Politico-water mafia nexus. I am committed to work with citizens and various citizen groups to break this nexus.

With the process of utilising MPLAD funds as I have described earlier, some of the MPLAD funds could certainly be used to rejuvenate lakes. Several other models could be utilized to raise necessary funds – such as working with BBMP, making citizens partners in maintenance of the Lakes, public-private partnership, and Corporate Social Responsibility programs.

As a party and as MP we have had lakes on priority, we currently have two plans on Belnadur and we have looked at all alternatives in rejuvenation, Our MLAs in your areas have taken up Lakes as priority and kaikondrahalli in your ward is a classic case where our government and people have worked together despite odds. We are now chasing down the linking of lake rajakaluves and about 630 kms have been surveyed as per the reports we have Belandur and the problem is larger than imagined due to the complexity of Bangalore’s drainage system. The BWSSB plant in Belandur is being upgraded and expanded, The large dia sewage diversion plans have to be in place before we ensure that no raw sewage enters Belandur, In a month or two this is likely to happen. If you see our manifesto we have proposed a Sustainability fund. One of the top priority items that we have thought of with this fund is greening and reduction of dust loads on roads. In addition The sustainability fund can be used for initiatives that our last state government too like Electric buses the G routes so that the overall car usage comes down. We take the issue of Bangalores equitable and sustainable growth very seriously.

The biggest challenge at Bellandur lake is the inflow of sewage. According to BBMP, this lake receives around 400 to 500 million litres of sewage everyday. Cleaning and diverting the sewage inflow is a big task. The solution to ground water problem for the lake would require several hundred crores. In 1960, there were 262 lakes at Bangalore but now we have only 81 lakes. I would seek support from Central themes for uplifting of lakes at Bangalore. MPLAD funds will not be sufficient for a project of this size. I am committed to push for an urgent Water Recharge Plan for the city.

I feel very strongly about environmental issues. Bellandur Lake is one of the few surviving lakes in Bangalore. Cleaning this up is priority. I intend to take up this cause if I am elected.

I also propose creating a panel of scientific experts to work on recharging groundwater.

Q5: Given that the 74th amendment talks about empowering local governments and recommends devolving power to Municipal Corporations, what will you do to ensure this happens, using your power as an MP?

a) Will you support more powers for BBMP including ability to raise its own revenue so it is a strong independent local government?

b) Do you want mayor to be city’s leader with real power over a 5 year term as opposed to the current one year term? Yes or No.

I fully support more powers to the local government. Swaraj bill is a major part of AAP manifesto and we would go even deeper than simply more powers for local government. We will legislate more powers in the hands of people at the local level. Elected representatives – corporators – will implement the decisions made by the Ward Sabhas of local residents. Every Ward Sabha would be given funds for development activities in their areas, which they can use based on their needs and priorities. For instance – laying a particular road, repairs at a school, opening a dispensary, rain water harvesting and so on. Moreover, Ward Sabhas will be empowered to make payments for Govt work only when quality is satisfactory – and will be empowered to cancel licenses when irregularities and malpractices are found. Transparency in its accounts is needed and should be available to the public at will. We need financial transparency to overcome corruption in the BBMP as well.

I want to see Mayor to be directly elected by people for the term of 5 years. The current system of one year term has proved to be highly ineffective –there is not sufficient time for the Mayor to make necessary decisions for the long-term planning for the City, no expectation of any accountability from any of the Mayors, and worse of all, the Mayor position is being used to allow more people to indulge in corruption. I am committed to fight corruption in Governance and bringing more transparency and accountability.

A) That Our state government worked on a BMRGA bill and as an MP I personally have given inputs to it is proof enough that we are very serious about BBMP, We also feel that we cannot have a large Unwieldy municipal body and that as an MP we can influence the direction on the way BBMP administration has to be done.

B) If you see our state Manifesto of the Assembly elections the Mayors terms was our priority. We know most of you do not read these documents but this time we exhort all of you to please read our State Manifesto and Central Manifesto.

http://bjpkarnataka.org/vision-document/

I strongly endorse the 74th amendment. This amendment allows for the power to be amongst the people who need to effect action and change. However, there needs to be strict accountability and checks and balances between the Municipal authorities, local MLAs and the MP regardless of political affiliation. I would insist on a CAG audit for all activities and then educate all citizens.

a) Yes I support it. We need to decentralize and empower local bodies to action change.

However, we need to identify clear roles and responsibilities, along with a system of accountability and transparency.

b) While I am agreeable to the concept of a Mayor having a long term, I am nervous to endorse one person in a position of such power for 5 years. Unless and until the credentials & competencies of corporators scale up, we must ensure that a non-performing Mayor should get replaced. The caliber of local elected representatives must be challenged and we citizens must insist on them being educated and credible to be corporators.

As an MP I would initiate a debate on policy for selection of a Mayor and build a consensus on the subject.

A) Yes, I do believe if the BBMP shows more efficiency, it should be able to raise its own revenue and have greater powers and freedom. It is a good idea to change archaic laws. Rented BBMP properties need to be paid for at their current market value. This would generate income and consequently increase capability.

However, we need to keep in mind BBMP’s past record. In order to raise capital, they mortgaged many public areas of interest like the Malleswaram Market and Johnson’s Market. This is not in the interest of the general public.

B) I do believe a one-year term is too short for someone to make a difference. But I am not one to take this decision.

Q6: Given that the MP can take high-level policy decisions regarding infrastructure development based on population’s needs and given that local authorities like the BBMP’s hands are tied – will you support a new policy to put on hold permissions for new commercial and residential construction till the water problem and road infrastructure are addressed? Yes or No

As I have explained under Q.5, I will support policies that will put more power on the hands of people to decide how funds should be used at the Ward level – which includes ability to put on hold permissions for any unsutainable projects. I will also work citizens and civil society groups to raise awareness among citizens as well raise the issue in the Parliament to ensure new policies for all new ‘development’ projects have ecological perspective and are sustainable.

While I agree on the policy part, this issue has been discussed threadbare by us and it is an issue that will be contested in courts. While we support what you say we must also bear in mind that with policy alone we may not be able to stop this but we will need public pressure and Judicial Intervention.

An MP’s role is to be the voice of the constituency in the highest law making body, the Parliament of India. It is our job to ensure that effective policies are tabled, debated and passed for betterment of the society at large. What is most critical is that we have an immediate comprehensive Urban Development Planthat addresses issues including water, garbage, sewage, roads in our city. As your MP, I will definitely voice these concerns and initiate a debate at the appropriate constitutional bodies.

First of all, there is no escaping fixing immediate water and infrastructure issues and preparing the city no matter what the situation. So, I am not sure this question is a simple ‘yes/no’ one. There are economic and urban planning experts that have a real answer to this problem.

Q7: Take any massive problem — e.g groundwater recharge in entire neighbourhood or complete lack of sewerage lines in most of Bangalore’s newer areas.. pollution or public transportation.  What is that one item – you will take up as a pet project – and your voters can hold you to your word.

As I have explained under Q.4, Water will be my pet project. Please see details above.

We have done some path breaking work on Ground water recharge legislation some of the areas Like Jayanagar and Rajajinagar have done exemplary work by our corporators and legislators on RWH, Areas like Mahadevpura have done tremendous amount of work on Lakes . Bomanahalli and Mahadevura to gether have large number of lakes. We have striven hard to remove maximum encroachment and have had exemplary success in the last 5 years in encroachment removal rather than any other time or government and we will continue this path despite knowing the complications and issues involved. For example when we cleared Solkere in your ward the society came protesting saying that you are depriving the poor, even though they were many that were not locals but migrants, It is your cooperation and understanding that will help sort these issues, not confrontation at every step.

We must insist that it is necessary to have the primary moola bootha soukrya’s, drinking water UGD and street lighting and Roads in all new areas. We have striven hard under the constrains and will continue to push hard for the rest, For example street lighting in Mahadevpura we have saved so much power by switching to LED In many areas, Primarily we want safe drinking water and we have tried drilling new bores especially for the weaker section to satiate their thirst this will be our priority

Women’s Empowermentand Water Shortageare going to be my top priorities. I would set up cooperatives to provide social and financial empowerment to women. Water is an issue near to my heart. We are facing a severe crisis of water shortage in the city that we have to collectively address.

The water from downstream Arkavathy has dried, underground water has completely dwindled and of the 972 Lakes only 200 are considered live which are more dumping grounds for garbage and filth than reservoirs of potable water. As a city we not only have to restore and preserve our existing lakes, but also ensure large developments have sufficient amounts of open spaces for ground water replenishment– less concrete more soil!!! I would work on a 50 year plan for the city for water. I have already invested time in researching how major cities in the world like Singapore, London etc recycle water. We must adopt global practices for water recycling.

Better storm water drains and compulsory water harvesting.

Tree planting drives to retain groundwater.

I also hope to look into taking faster and more efficient administrative decisions and forming a more proactive government.

There need to be stricter laws to curb the pollution of freshwater bodies. I advocate heavy fines be imposed on lawbreakers.

1 Under the MPLADS (MP Local Area Development Scheme), each MP gets Rs 5 Crores annually

About Shilpi Sahu 62 Articles
Shilpi Sahu is a techie, running enthusiast, SWM advocate and an amateur artist, all rolled into one.

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