All work and no play makes the BBMP council dull

At a time when Bengaluru is facing acute water shortage, call it ironic that over 400 half-litre bottles (costing Rs 8 each) of mineral water were consumed during the two-day special ‘water’ session of the BBMP council.

Only one corporator, Congress’s K Poornima (Basavanapura, Ward 53) pointed out to this, requesting Mayor S K Nataraj to ensure that smaller bottles are provided or to make it compulsory for all corporators to carry the bottles back with them instead of leaving them in the council hall, half-consumed.

Poornima’s appeal may well have fallen on deaf ears.

It is unfortunate that many such genuine pleas may have just gone unheard in the midst of the melee that the politicians chose to resort to during the session.

It all started on Day One when Deputy Mayor N Dayanand walked in wearing the Mayoral robe, to conduct the proceedings in place of Nataraj who was running late. Members of the Opposition immediately stood up saying that a Deputy Mayor can only conduct the proceedings but not wear the Mayor’s ceremonial robe. A startled Dayanand looked nothing less than lost, wondering what to do. Despite BJP leaders countering the Congress and JD(S)’s arguments, Dayanand quickly went out, ‘disrobed’ himself and got back to begin the day’s work.

This was just one of those many interruptions that were to come.

Several corporators chose to chide each other, all in the name of ‘water’. Like when BJP corporator Krishna V (Bapujinagar, Ward 134) said that BWSSB engineers come to the spot only if rowdies are sent to threaten them. Leader of the Opposition M Nagaraj immediately stood up, smiling, pointing out to the "level of the BJP corporators", to which BJP’s Ravindra H (Vijaynagar, Ward 123) stood up and said, "Don’t Nagaraj and Krishna look like brothers?!".

There were also some who stood up, made a point and then looked towards the media representatives, hoping to have garnered some attention.

And then there was former mayor K Chandrashekar (Hanumanthanagar, Ward 155) who stood up and said he would like to move a motion, again causing a commotion. BJP members told him a motion can be moved only by writing to the mayor seven days in advance. Chandrashekar said that he would like to use Section 53 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (KMC) Act, 1976 and move an emergency motion. He was finally asked to pipe down and wait his turn, as this was a special session focusing on water.

When his turn finally came, he said that Section 53 of the KMC Act can be used to move an emergency motion. A motion is a statement of a matter brought before the house for consideration in accordance with the rules.

It is still unclear as to what Chandrashekar wanted to move a motion with regard to.

Like Nazni Begum, an independent corporator (Padarayanapura, Ward 135) said, "There needs to be a sense of discipline in council. There should be a code of conduct". But then again, who is to teach an old dog new tricks?

The atmosphere in the council was most informal as corporators walked in and out of the council hall, at their own accord. Many were absent on both days. Those who were present chose to speak with one another instead of listening to the corporator whose turn it was to speak.

There was also a lot of bickering like when a BJP corporator was reading a newspaper, Leader of Opposition Nagaraj requested the mayor to ask that corporator to not read a newspaper in the middle of a session. This despite Nagaraj himself constantly engaging in small talk most of the time.

The women, however, seemed to be less vocal. While a few of them stand up and speak during the regular interruptions, a majority of them just remain in their seats and watch the fun. Is it because many of the husbands sit in the gallery above, keeping a close eye on their corporator-wives? Well, one wouldn’t know.

And even when the women spoke, Nagaraj very chivalrously said, "Paapa hennu makkalu mathanaduthidhare. Swalpa keli", as if the women are any less than the men. After all, aren’t they all there because they’ve been elected to power? Do you really have to listen to the women out of sympathy?

Well, the council is full of contradictions. One only hopes that they actually get some work done in there while they are at it.

About Vaishnavi Vittal 17 Articles
Vaishnavi Vittal is a Bangalore-based journalist.

1 Comment

  1. Liberal democratic societies in the English Speaking World appear to excel in displaying conduct less becoming of leaders.

    One of the disadvantages of being a civic leader is to behave like one. I would have thought that contemporary leaders in Bengaluru, heirs to a great civilization, would conduct themselves in an exemplary fashion and deal with the challenges confronting them instead of bickering common in Britain or Australia. Maybe some day leaders will wake up to the large obligations they have to the world when it comes to civility.

    Sixty years after the Constitution male condescension appears to be alive and well. Wish some women quietly speak in chambers and request the male presiding officer not to urge other colleagues to behave in a more civil fashion simply because they are women. Everyone deserves civility regardless of gender.

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