Cong looks to woo city’s poor with sops in BBMP budget

40 pc of urban voters come from poorer section, can influence electoral outcomes in 28 Assembly seats in city

Published: 24th March 2017 01:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th March 2017 06:53 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Taking a leaf out of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s state budget, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) budget, which will be presented on Saturday, too is expected to have loads of goodies for the urban poor.

Senior Congress member M K Gunashekar, who is the chairman of the BBMP Standing Committee on Taxation and Finance, will present his budget on March 25. He had earlier presented the budget during 2004-05 when the civic agency was Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike. 

“I am the only one to present a budget for the second time. There are definitely more challenges with the geographical boundary having expanded and population growth during the last decade,’’ Gunashekar said.
With Assembly elections due next year, the Congress, which is in power in the state and the BBMP, will look to reach out to the huge chunk of urban poor voters who constitute 40 per cent of Bengaluru’s population. 

Of the 28 Assembly seats in Bengaluru, Congress holds 13, BJP 12 and JD(S) 3. All the three Lok Sabha seats are with BJP. In the BBMP council, BJP has 101 members including one independent, Congress has 64 with seven independents supporting it, while JD(S) has 14 members.

According to BBMP sources, the budget size for the upcoming financial year will cross `10,000 crore. “BBMP hospitals have good infrastructure. But treatment is restricted to either maternity or dog bite cases. We need to look beyond this in our hospitals. Upgrading them to multi-speciality hospitals requires more funding, but this can be done only gradually. This budget might focus on this, allowing urban poor to get better medical facilities at affordable cost,” the source said.

The Chief Minister, in the state budget, has announced setting up of Namma Canteens in all the 198 BBMP wards and allocated `100 crore for this. 

“We have invited entries for logo and interior design. We want to create a brand which will be well recognised. We want to give good food in a good ambience to poor,’’ the sources said. 

With a new garbage contractor in place, a large number of pourakarmikas have been deployed to manage the city’s garbage. “We have already started mid-day meals for these people in some zones. It will be extended to all zones,” the source said.

This apart, the budget is also expected to focus on the city’s traffic problems. As announced in the state budget, more flyovers, underbridges and road-widening works will be taken up. Small and old BBMP markets in the core areas which are in a dilapidated state will be converted to multi-level car parking facilities. Graveyards, which were neglected for many years, will get better funding for overall development and improving facilities.

A Congress councillor, who did not want to be named, said, “We have been told to concentrate on the Assembly election and it is our responsible to get votes for our candidates in 2018. We were told to focus and interact more with the urban poor. This budget will have more schemes and projects that will give priority this section of people,’’ he said.

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