Even as the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Council (Bengaluru city municipal corporation) term ends on Thursday (September 10), political parties are at loggerheads over the delay in the election for the next term.
Bengaluru would have witnessed political campaigns now for the civic polls with elections due in September. But with rising COVID-19 cases in the city, civic authorities estimate the polls may be delayed by at least four-six months.
The state government has already postponed the gram panchayat elections indefinitely. With respect to BBMP elections, the stalemate continues as no decision in this regard has been taken yet.
The Council put forth a demand that the Mayor’s term be extended until the elections are conducted again. That would entail extension of term for all 198 corporators. But the government hasn’t accepted the proposal yet.
The state government has neither openly said it would not conduct the elections this year nor when it would be ready for the polls.
In June, the state was of the opinion earlier that the polls should be postponed until 2021 even as the election commission gave a nod for elections in December this year.
The Congress and its corporators are angry over the delay in elections and saying the government is deliberately trying to subvert the constitutional process. Congress is eyeing poll victory making use of the opportunity to blame the government for its alleged failure in handling the pandemic.
“The government is giving reasons that it has to increase the number of wards from 198 to 224 and hence the delay. It’s not a valid reason for the delay,” Congress spokesperson VS Ugrappa said.
“This government does not believe in decentralisation of power and local self-government. That political parties (Congress and JDS) will have to convey this to the voter and take them into confidence. Approaching court should be the last resort,” Ugrappa added.
On the question of extension of the term, Ugrappa opined that it has not happened in the past and it would not happen even now.
Political leaders expect the matter to go to court in the event of an inordinate delay in elections. Both in 2010 and 2015, the court intervened to order the state to conduct the elections.
BBMP polls were held in 2010, nearly three years after the Council ceased to exist. Again, it was the same BJP government that delayed the process and cited expansion of the corporation and delimitation exercise as the reason for delay.
In 2015, the Siddaramaiah led Congress government postponed the election by six months citing restructuring plans for the BBMP.
Meanwhile, with some of the MLAs switching parties during the last assembly election, the councillors, whose terms ends today and are certain to get tickets for next election, may jump ship in the days to come.
Yeshwanthpur ward Congress corporator GK Venkatesh said since their MLA moved from Congress to the BJP, he would soon join the party and contest on the BJP ticket. “By the time the government decides when the next elections would be held, I would switch over to BJP,” Venkatesh said.