Will BBMP polls be further delayed? Bommai government weighs options | Bengaluru

On the backfoot after Supreme Court’s order to hold local body elections within two weeks’ time, the Karnataka government is in a fluster. In this matter, the state’s Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday said that the government is considering moving the apex court seeking time to fix reservations for other backward classes (OBCs) or for an opportunity to go by the reservation that existed until now.

Speaking to reporters, he said the options before the government were to appeal for time or to request for an opportunity to go by old OBC reservation. “We are hopeful of getting time…We have to go for polls with OBC reservation, either to go by reservation that existed so far or give time for new reservation,” he added.

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bengaluru’s local municipal corporation responsible for the administration, has been functioning without an elected council ever since September 2020. Its elections have been delayed for nearly two years since its term ended and bureaucrats took over. 

Even as the IT hub is in desperate need of smooth governance and re-establishment of a structured leadership given its crumbling infrastructure, the Bommai-led government has been delaying the much-awaited elections for years, by citing either the need to redraw BBMP wards or the issue of providing reservation for backward classes. 

A report on The News Minute revealed that legislators have been benefitting from the absence of an elected council because it gives them additional powers which wouldn’t be possible if all wards had corporators. Bengaluru Development hasn’t had a dedicated minister for nearly a decade. It is a coveted position that is known to be much competed for and has been the subject of internal friction within the party. This has led both the current CM Bommai and the former CM Yediyurappa to hold the portfolios themselves.

The report quoted a BJP leader as saying that around 20 legislators across parties have been collectively paying the advocate’s fee to have the BBMP polls delayed, which comes up to about Rs. 25 lakhs per legislator.

The Chief Minister and Karnataka’s Revenue Minister R Ashoka however told media that the BJP is ever ready for all elections. Bommai meanwhile expressed hope about getting time from the Supreme Court. “On OBC reservation, one case regarding BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) is pending before the Supreme Court, secondly regarding Zilla and Taluk Panchayat polls too, we have to request that we (govt) have to give OBC reservations legally and constitutionally,” he said. 

The SC in its Tuesday order said the Zilla and Taluk panchayat elections that were due in May-June 2021 have been on the pending list, as the state government had constituted a delimitation commission to redraw panchayat boundaries. Regarding OBC reservation in local bodies, a bench of justices AM Khanwilkar, AS Oka, and CT Ravikumar said, “No reservation for the OBCs can be provisioned until the triple test exercise mentioned in a 2010 Constitution bench verdict is completed in all respects.”

(With PTI Inputs)

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