Signs of approaching BBMP polls as Chief Minister Bommai holds meeting with UDD- BBMP officials, even as SC set to hear issue in December
After the minimum of 37 days required for the state govt to complete the BBMP ward delimitation and category reservation process, the state election commission will require another 3 months to prepare and publish a revised voter’s list
For all babu-weary Bengalureans and aspirant corporators, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel as the current indications point to the BBMP elections – overdue for more than 432 days, or 61 weeks — being held anytime in February-March next year.
The BJP-led state government has made up its mind to go ahead and conduct the elections for BBMPs newly restructured 243 wards. As per estimates, the state government requires a minimum of 37 days to complete the ward delimitation and category reservation process.
On Monday evening, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a 10-minute discussion with Revenue Minister R Ashoka (who has been the ‘Bengaluru’ face in the state cabinet), Urban Development Department Additional Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh, BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta and former BBMP chief N Manjunatha Prasad (currently Principal Secretary to the CM).
Meanwhile, the matter related to the BBMP elections is due to be listed before the Supreme Court in the first week of December.
Sources told TheBengaluruLive that some officials had misled Bommai by suggesting that the entire process of delimitation and wardwise reservation could be completed in 27 days, after which the ball would be in the court of the state election commission to conduct the civic elections. However, the fact is that the state government requires a minimum of 37 days to complete the entire process before the state election commission takes over.
This time-frame of 37 days starts from the day the draft of the ward delimitation is published by the Urban Development Department. As things stand, the ward delimitation committee led by BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta has met thrice and has directed the officials concerned to complete the procedure as soon as possible.
Once the draft ward delimitation is prepared and published, the state government has to provide a minimum of 15 days’ time for objections from villagers and political parties. Another 15 days will be required to go through the objections and prepare the final report. Thereafter, the Urban Development Department will have to publish a draft notification of ward-wise reservation, vis-a-vis which 7 days’ time has to be given for localites to file objections. This completes the 37-day process of ward delimitation and reservation.
After these 37 days, the government can put the ball in the court of the state election commission, which will have to restructure the voter’s list as per the new ward delimitation. In other words, several booths existing in ward A might have been shifted to ward B and such voters staying in ward A will have to be relisted in ward B. Then, the election commission will have to publish a draft of the revised voter’s list.
Sources said that taking into account the entire procedure, the election commission may require at least 3 months to publish a draft voter’s list. Thus, if the state government genuinely intends to hold elections to BBMP’s 243 wards, the polls may take place in the latter part of February or in March 2022.
No new area to be included
Sources said that while BBMP will restructure its existing 198 wards into 243 wards, it has dropped the idea of including in its jurisdiction new villages which are close to the 110 villages on the outskirts which are currently part of the civic body. This move could be due to the non-availability of a government notification as only political demands for inclusion of more villages have been made in the past.
However, a judgement of the Andhra Pradesh High Court has clearly stated that if any existing gram panchayat (whose elected body’s tenure continues) is included in an urban local body, such GP representatives will have to be considered as corporators of the urban local body. Hence, if the Karnataka government decides to include GPs neighbouring BBMP whose elected body’s tenure is ongoing, the state government cannot dissolve the GPs’ elected body as their tenure has not been completed, and such representatives will have to be considered as BBMP corporators.
On the other hand, as per the rule book, the gram panchayat concerned should have a minimum of 50-60% of agricultural land and if this percentage has dropped and the GP has become urbanized, the concerned district’s deputy commissioner will have to make a proposal to the state government for inclusion of the GP in the limits of an urban local body.
Given the problematic issues involved in such cases, the BJP-led state government has decided not to include any new villages or GPs within a 1-km distance from the civic boundaries in BBMP’s jurisdiction.