BENGALURU: For hundreds of aspiring corporators, BBMP elections are the stepping stone for launching their political career.
As corporators they are part of the city’s decision-making body and enjoy financial authority that is almost equal to members of the Assembly. In fact, they are more popular than MLAs in the city as they come directly into contact with the people.
Many senior MLAs, ministers and MLCs in the city were councillors once and had started their political career by contesting in the corporation election. This includes District in-charge Minister Ramalinga Reddy, MLC Somanna, former minister Suresh Kumar, JD(S) MLA Gopaliah and many more.
In the last term of the Assembly, MLAs Munirathna (Rajarajeshwarinagar) and Byrathi Basavaraju (K R Puram) had started off as Congress councillors.
Suresh Kumar was elected BJP councillor for the then Bangalore Mahanagara Palike in 1983. He served in that position for two consecutive terms before becoming MLA and eventually the law minister.
Suresh Kumar said more aspire to become councillors than MLAs or MPs.
“In my constituency, there are seven wards and each ward has at least five to eight aspirants from my party. For those who want to flourish in politics, corporation is the entry point. For me, entering the Palike was like an arangetram in politics... I learnt a lot,” he said.
Ramalinga Reddy said not all 198 councillors can become MLAs. Very few people get lucky to bag tickets to contest and win.
“In an Assembly election, there is a population of more than two lakh, but only one person can contest from each party. For BBMP elections, more people can contest in the same geographical area, and therefore there are more aspirants. I was a councillor during 1983 and became MLA in 1985. It helped me to understand public issues and deal with them,” he said.
In BBMP, the grant sanctioned per ward is `2 crore for the old wards and `3 crore for the newly added ones.
Though a ward is part of the Assembly constituency geographically, ward grants are equal or more than MLA’s grants, which is also one of the reasons it is a lucrative option for aspirants.
“Also, once elected as councillor, a person can become mayor, deputy mayor or even chairperson for any of the standing committees. First-timers also get a chance to hold these posts whereas chances for a first-time MLA becoming minister or CM is very less,” said a leader from BJP.
Councillors More Popular than MLAs
Speaking to Express, political analyst Harish Ramaswamy said local bodies in urban centres are more developed commercially. The decision of making any area commercial or non-commercial depends on the local governance body. In Bengaluru, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike councillors have this power. But MLAs or MPs do not enjoy the same power.