Suspicions remain about ruling BJP’s ‘political’ ploy to grab richest municipality
Paving the way for the ruling BJP to campaign vigorously for the lucrative pie that is Bruhat Bengaluru Mahagara Palike, the state government on Monday notified the BBMP Act, 2020. The Act, which had sailed through the recent legislature session, received Governor Vajubhai Vala’s formal assent on December 19.
The new law, which takes Bengaluru out of the ambit of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, has the ostensible objective of better governance for India’s Silicon City, its main feature being an increase in the number of wards from the existing 198 to 243. With the government’s notification coming on the heels of the Supreme Court’s stay of the Karnataka High Court order that had directed early polls to the existing 198 wards, the path is clear for the huge ward delimitation exercise, which will also involve revision of ward reservations and voters’ lists.
Among the other key points of the new law, the BBMP mayor and deputy mayor will have a 30-month tenure in place of the existing one-year term. Thus, the city will see two mayors in five years, instead of five mayors as was the case so far. This is one of the few aspects of the new law that has been welcomed by many Bengalureans.
Despite the government’s protestations to the contrary, opposition political parties as well as many Bengalureans see the enactment of the new law as the BJP government’s tactic to delay the BBMP Council polls so that it can be in a stronger position to grab power in Karnataka’s richest municipality.
The last BBMP Council’s five-year tenure ended on September 10, and the High Court’s order – now stayed by the apex court – directing early polls was based on its observation that the amended KMC Act did not apply to municipal corporations whose tenure had ended before the amendments came into force.