BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar, perceived in several quarters as having failed to control the recent surge of the coronavirus in Bengaluru city and also under the scanner over a Rs 300-crore Covid beds scam, has been shunted out of his post with immediate effect. In his place, the state government has brought back his predecessor N Manjunath Prasad.
Just as ignonimously, Anil Kumar’s transfer as Additonal Chief Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises, is being seen as a thinly-veiled punishment posting.
Anil Kumar took charge as BBMP Commissioner on August 28, 2019 following Manjunath Prasad’s transfer. Prasad had served as a stabilizing presence in the civic body for a long tenure of 3 years, 3 months during a period when the state was ruled by three parties – Congress, JDS and BJP.
Ever since Anil Kumar took over as BBMP Commissioner, the government was under pressure to shunt him out as several MLAs were unhappy with his approach to developmental issues. Moreover, the CM’s office had received complaints that Kumar was not attending to files marked by the CM himself, according to a source.
Covid beds scam
More recently, Kumar came in the line of fire after several media organisations, including theBengalurulive, highlighted the huge Rs 300-crore cost to the exchequer from hiring cots and other items for the city’s Covid Care Centres.
Sources said the BJP high command in New Delhi was also not happy with the Yediyurappa government for not taking action against officers against whom graft allegations were being made. The party bosses had also indicated that disciplinary action should be taken even against ministers involved in any scam.
It is said that Anil Kumar was using his proximity to some BJP politicians to safeguard his position. “One time he took help from a woman MP from Karnataka, while once he was helped by a former MLA for Rajarajeshwari Nagar in the city. He was also supported by a an MP from Bengaluru. An MLA for North Bengaluru and another minister from western Bengaluru had played a vital role in staving off Anil Kumar’s transfer a couple of times,” said a source.
Prasad has task cut out
Manjunath Prasad took over as BBMP Commissioner from G Kumar Naik in 2016. Observers point out that he was appointed during Siddaramaiah’s regime and continued to serve as Commissioner during the coalition government run by HD Kumaraswamy. He continued for some months even during Yediyurappa’s regime, till Anil Kumar managed to get the coveted post.
As per sources, Manjunath Prasad knows the city like the back of his hand as he is a localite. Besides, he has a good equation with politicians across the political spectrum.
But it won’t be easy for him to handle the pandemic crisis in the city. Bengaluru currently has more than 20,000 active cases being treated at various hospitals, while the cross-infection risk continues with most asymptomatic patients being asked to self-isolate.