High hopes of CM and Congress making Bangalore better (Karnataka Newsletter)

Bangalore, May 24 (IANS) Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seems to have raised hopes of better times for this capital as he has kept with himself the Bangalore and IT departments, apart from his pet subject – finance.

“It is a good move,” T. V. Mohandas Pai, former director of IT major Infosys and now vice president of the Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC), told IANS.

He was confident that Siddaramaiah, who took over as chief minister May 13 after the Congress wrested power from the Bharatiya Janata Party in the May 5 assembly poll, would find time to tackle Bangalore’s mounting problems – from garbage disposal to perennial traffic snarls, among many others.

“I am sure he will find time and give attention to Bangalore as it generates 60 percent of the GSDP (gross state domestic product) and about 65 percent of the state’s taxes,” said Pai, who is now active in the education sector as head of the Manipal Global Educational Services.

The confidence apparently stems from the fact that Siddaramaiah and the Congress have to face Lok Sabha elections in just a year.

“If Bangalore degenerates, then Karnataka will be hurt and he will not be able to execute his ambitious programme for the state. Also let us remember there is a Lok Sabha election in 2014. The citizens of Bangalore are articulate, have high expectations and will not easily accept any more destruction of their city,” Pai said.

He predicted that “If Bangalore is not turned around in 12 months before the next (Lok Sabha) elections, the entire mood in the city will be negative and negative for the ruling party (the Congress) all across India that they got power and spoiled the show.”

B.PAC was launched in February with bio-technology bellwether Biocon head Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw as its president, Pai as vice president and retired Karnataka additional chief secretary K. Jairaj as secretary. It has several leading athletes, artistes and theatre activists as its members and has the backing of Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy.

B.PAC is among the many organizations that have been demanding a minister to exclusively deal with Bangalore as the crisis facing the city is getting acute over the years.

The Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry last week presented to Siddaramaiah its agenda for the state’s economic growth and also demanded a minister to exclusively tackle Bangalore’s problems.

Bangalore had become world famous as India’s IT hub during the previous Congress regime headed by S. M. Krishna (1999-2004).

Ironically the city’s problems – traffic snarls, poor garbage disposal, water scarcity to name a few – outpaced its transformation into a powerhouse of IT and IT-related services.

The city houses home-grown majors like Infosys and Wipro and huge offices of foreign giants such as IBM, Accenture, Oracle and Honeywell.

Its image has taken a particularly severe beating since last July as the city did not manage the 5,000 tonnes of solid and wet waste its nearly 10 million population generates daily.

For weeks, the waste was left to rot at street corners, making living a hell and bringing a bad name to the Bharatiya Janata Party government also in the last year of its maiden rule of the state. The BJP rules the Bangalore civic body, the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike or Greater Bangalore City Corporation).

On B.PAC’s expectation from the new government, Pai said: “Good governance, transparency in administration, no corruption and development of Bangalore on a war footing.”

Among the steps he listed for restoring and enhancing Bangalore’s image are completion of the Metro, improvement of public transport, synchronising signals for smooth traffic flow, widening of roads, improving lane discipline, a campaign to clean up the city, ridding the footpaths of garbage and debris and keeping the city clean.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at [email protected])

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