While the political heat is on in poll-bound Karnataka, Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC), a citizen’s group that seeks better governance practices, has raised the pitch by announcing it will support the ‘good’ candidates from across political parties.
BPAC has already identified 14 such candidates, who have done development work in Bangalore city. It has endorsed them by providing Rs 5 lakh funding per constituency.
The move has evoked mixed reactions. While some welcomed it, the Congress and the Left parties have dismissed the citizen’s group as being elitist and not capable of influencing the political landscape.
Harish Bijoor, a long-time Bangalorean and an expert on branding, said: “Fundamentally, it is a body that has an agenda for Bangalore. The idea is that the city has been ignored for long by the political leadership. There is a need to reinvent Bangalore. It is important to plan for the future properly. People must participate more actively in the governance of cities. We want to let others come in.”
BPAC members are gung-ho about their efforts. “The response has been very good and exceeded our expectations, the level of interest, voter enrollment and overall interest,” said T V Mohandas Pai, vice-president, BPAC.
BPAC has been trying hard to make a case for proper governance structure for the city; promoting citizen inclusion in governance; trying to strengthen the finances of the local body and other city agencies; ensuring accountability of civic agencies, and developing strong infrastructure.
According to Pai, the funding is “a testimony to their candidature, and there has been an increase in their support base and overall raised their profile. Hopefully, it will lead to an increase in their funding from clean sources.”
He, however, believes it’s the media which will shape voter opinion as the middle class becomes a larger part of the electorate.
“In the short span that BPAC has been active, we have got a tremendous response from the general public. We are hoping to have a large number of people coming out and voting on May 5, 2013. Thousands of people have joined hands with BPAC as members and volunteers, which reflects that BPAC agenda resonates citizens’ concerns and demand for a better Bangalore,” said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, president, BPAC
The Communist Party of India (Marxists) criticised B.PAC’s move. It cautioned the electorate against the move as being detrimental to democracy, alleging B.PAC is a forum that seeks to protect the interests of corporates. “The yardstick to pick and fund candidates did not take into account the ordinary citizen’s interests... B.PAC’s endorsing and funding 14 candidates is an indicator of the danger that capitalist forces posed to democracy,” the party said.
Pai dismissed this saying the Left parties are “suspicious by nature” and have a “pathological opposition” to the middle class. “All political parties want an engaged middle class, better candidates to join them and citizens to fund them,” Pai added.
Shaw said B.PAC has no vested interests whatsoever. “We are working for the cause of all Bangalore citizens’ best interests.”