BENGALURU: Congress MLAs, who met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah late on Friday, had just one request: Explore every available option to postpone BBMP elections.
The reason is that they are in no mood to face the elections, and want something solid to show before they seek votes for the party.
Giving in to their wishes, Siddaramaiah decided on Saturday to dissolve the BBMP Council and appoint an administrator, citing IAS officer Rajkumar Kataria’s report about large-scale corruption in the civic body.
Siddaramaiah personally holds portfolios governing Bengaluru’s civic agencies —BBMP, BDA and BWSSB.
The decision, though expected, surprised many as it came ahead of the special legislature session coming up on Monday, convened by the government to trifurcate the BBMP. The High Court is hearing a case related to the BBMP polls the same day.
BJP spokesperson Suresh Kumar said the Kataria report was just an excuse to supersede the municipal corporation. “The truth is, the Congress is not in a position to face elections,” he told Express.
Even the chief minister is worried about the political implications of losing BBMP elections, party sources said.
Since the days of Ramakrishna Hegde in 1983 to B S Yeddyurappa in 2010, no party in power has lost the civic elections in Bengaluru. Losing an election now could put Siddaramaiah under pressure in the party.
But what was the hurry to supersede the BBMP? The government is planning to inform the court on Monday that the question of holding elections does not arise as the BBMP council does not exist.
That way, the government, and the Congress, can buy at least six months before elections are held.
So invoking its powers under Section 99 of the Karnataka Municipal Council Act and Article 243(U)(3)(b) of the Constitution, the government has superseded the civic body.
The KMC Act gives the government the authority to dissolve a civic body for corruption. The Constitutional article allows six months to hold elections from the date of the dissolution of a municipal body.
“No court in the country has given any specific direction on that Constitutional clause, and we wanted to explore the grey area,” a senior minister admitted to Express.
Faced with Governor Vajubhai Vala sending back an ordinance to trifurcate the BBMP, and the High Court not taking kindly to the government’s efforts to postpone municipal elections, the government is making a last-ditch effort to swing things its way.