The much-delayed polls to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) are slated to be held in October this year; the term of the municipal corporation had lapsed in September 2020. After the Supreme Court’s directions to the Karnataka government on July 28 to issue notification on delimitation of wards within a week, the State government has prepared a list of ward-wise reservations, which has left the main opposition party in the State, the Indian National Congress, fuming. The Congress has alleged that the wards which are part of Legislative Assembly constituencies represented by the Congress have been given reservations.
Abdul Wajid, former Congress Councillor and opposition leader in the BBMP, stated that the “the new reservation list issued by the state government clearly shows that it is prepared at Keshava Krupa [RSS headquarters in Bengaluru], and not by the government, to make sure that the BJP will gain from it”. Wajid provided the examples of two constituencies: Gandhinagar and Shivajinagar, which are represented by Congress MLAs and where all the wards (seven in each constituency) have been reserved for women. According to Wajid, this was not the case in Assembly constituencies represented by the BJP, where most of the wards are categorised as ‘General’ which means anyone can contest from here, giving the ruling party an unfair advantage.
Of the 243 wards represented by Councillors in BBMP, 113 have been reserved for Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes. Half of the 243 wards, cutting across caste-based reservations, have been reserved for women.
Speaking to mediapersons on August 7, D.K. Shivakumar, president, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, said: “Of the 93 wards which are part of Assembly constituencies represented by the Congress party, 76 have been reserved for women. The government has prepared the reservation list so that the Congress loses. The BBMP office has become BJP’s office. The reservation that has to be provided to Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and women has not been done correctly. There has been also been a large-scale deletion of the names of traditional Congress supporters from the voting lists.”
Responding to the Congress’ accusations, Dr C.N. Ashwath Narayan, Minister for Higher Education, said: “The Congress has accepted defeat even before the elections. If there is any error in the preparation of the reservation list, let them question it legally rather than resorting to threatening tactics.”