Amendments to KMC Act will push BBMP elections again
Amendments to The Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, which was notified by the State government on Saturday, will push elections to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) by a few more months.
The amendment has not only said that BBMP should have not less than 225 and not more than 250 wards, but has also provided for a delimitation commission. This means, as per the KMC Act, 1976, elections cannot be held for BBMP in its present form of 198 wards. The delimitation and reservation exercise that the State government carried out recently has gone for a toss and the exercise has to be redone to increase the number of wards to at least 225. This is expected to push the BBMP elections by at least four to five months, sources in the government said.
A writ petition filed by the Karnataka State Election Commission and a few Congress councillors in Karnataka High Court seeking timely polls is expected to come up for hearing again on October 12. “Since this is the will of the legislature now made into a law, it is to be seen what the High Court that has been keenly following up on the delimitation and reservation process to ensure timely elections will do now,” a senior official in the Urban Development Department said.
S. Raghu, chairman of the legislature committee on the BBMP Bill, 2020, said the committee had recommended the size of a ward be limited to an average population of 35,000, which will give the city 241 wards in the present area under BBMP limits. “As per the new amendments, the delimitation exercise has to be redone to increase the number of wards. The Chief Minister, who also holds charge of Bengaluru Development, will shortly chair a meeting to decide on the number of wards and other modalities,” he said.
Adopting the Chennai model, a delimitation commission is likely to be chaired by the BBMP Commissioner to carry out the delimitation and reservation of wards exercise, sources in UDD said.
However, many have criticised this as another “time buying mechanism” and say that the entire exercise is likely to be rendered null and void again in a few months as the government plans to bring in a dedicated law for the city’s governance.
“The BBMP Bill, 2020, is a long-pending governance reform for the city. We want to transition the city into a new governance setup and hold elections under the new law and not under the existing KMC Act, 1976. If elections are held under the KMC Act today, the operationalisation of the BBMP Bill, 2020 will likely be postponed for five years which the city cannot afford,” a senior BJP functionary said.
A Congress member of the legislature committee on BBMP Bill, 2020, said the Bill in its present form was not radically different from the KMC Act, 1976 and made only cosmetic changes. “There seems to be no will to fix the structural governance deficit in the city and the entire exercise seems to be aimed at postponing polls, which is unconstitutional,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Raghu said that there was no consensus over the inclusion of new areas to BBMP. “A call on addition of newer areas to BBMP and the criteria for that will be decided at a later date,” he said, indicating newer areas may be added to the city corporation limits when the BBMP Bill, 2020, is made into a law. This will force the government to go for another round of delimitation, officials said.