Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (ANK)

Mangaluru, Jul 18: The city has had many lady mayors in the past handling the Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC). Mayor Kavita Sanil is one of the few mayors in the city who is known to have maximum impact in the shortest time due to her fearless way of running the administration. With lots of goals set in her tenure, Kavita has already made a name for being strict about illegalities. She has been in the news for taking stringent action against illegal game centres and massage parlours.

Kavita, a national-level karate champion, with 58 gold medals and 18 silver medals to her name, spoke in an exclusive interview to editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike on Daijiworld 24x7 channel’s 'Public Challenge programme.


Excerpts

Q: The word 'Singham' is usually used for the police department. Being a mayor, you are being called a 'Lady Singham'. You carried out several raids which even police did not do. Your views on it?

A: The public should put forth their views on my work. These raids were carried out as we had received a lot of complaints. People have given me an opportunity to be the mayor. It is my duty to keep an eye on the work that is happening within the MCC limits.


Q: You have locked down massage parlours and skill games during your raid. But the owner of a skill game centre managed to reopen it the very next day. What was reason behind this?

A: Yes, we have locked down massage parlours and skill games. During the raid, the owner was against us. We have received several complaints from people and parents and thus we raided these places. I have noticed several students and youths at these game centres. Many of them were below the age of 30 years. The owner of the game centre was adamant, but we did our duty. If they have reopened it again, the police department should look into it. The MCC has complained about it and we are eagerly waiting for the police to take action.


Q: Here in Mangaluru, either police raids such illegal businesses or activists from certain associations do it. Is the MCC permitted to conduct raids directly?

A: Yes, of course. When an individual runs a business without a trade license, the MCC has the authority to raid and shut it down.

In the recent cases, neither the massage parlour nor the skill games had trade licences. Not only skill games centres or massage parlours, but any business running without license will be locked down by MCC. We have the authority.


Q: Many people said that MCC could have complained to police and through them these illegal activities could have been stopped.

A: We could have informed police if it was any kind of illegal activity. In this case, we conducted raids as they were running the business without trade license from MCC. We are not here to do other departments' work. People can run business if they have trade license, but we will decide whether the trade license has to be issued or not. After MCC issues trade license, the police have to make sure that people are not doing anything illegal. Today in the name of beauty parlours, ayurvedic centres, many of them acquire trade license from MCC. Police should stop illegal activities happening at such places. During the raids of these massage parlour and skill games centre, we came across many illegal activities too.


Q: During one of your raids, the owner of the skill games centre was arrogant and also claimed that they had bribed the police department. How did you face this situation?

A: If the owner is arrogant, I am not a person who is afraid of anyone. I have even received threat calls. I am not one among the group of deer, I am a lioness. There is some law which has to be followed where they have to pay tax and acquire trade license. We locked down the skill games centre and it is reopened again. We can imagine where our law is heading to.


Q: We appreciate your courage as you did not take the help of police. But you took media along with you during the raid. Why?

A: Media are the one who highlight such issues. People will get the news. Through media, people came to know about skill games and massage parlours. Media are the one who are helping us. Parents also are equally responsible for their children. They have to keep a check on where their children go. We even saw some students bunk classes and go for these games centres. So we have to create general awareness about it. I do not think I have done anything wrong.


Q: Some of your party members alleged that the raid was done for publicity.

A: If I had such thoughts in my mind, I had other opportunities to gain publicity. Its four months since I took over as the mayor and I am satisfied with my work. There was lots of drinking water problem. I am happy and satisfied that we never allowed people to face shortage of water. Many artistes showed disappointment over the hike of Town Hall rent which was sorted out. E-toilet have been constructed. I receive several complaints from people which I try and readdress at the earliest. Believe it or not, I work till 9pm and check the complaints. I also see that the complaints are sent to the concerned departments.

I do not want any publicity. Ninety per cent of the people are supporting me, while 10 per cent are alleging that I am doing it for publicity. We need to think about children’s future and parents who send their children to college to have a good future ahead. If these students take a wrong path, then we have to regret. There are people who even say why these illegal activities are permitted in the city. I conducted the raid as I had received a call from a parent who was in tears saying that her son frequently asks money and spends it at the skill games centre. People who are opposing the raids will realise only if their children are into trouble due to these game centres.


Q: After skill games centre and massage parlours, which is your next target?

A: It is not about skill games or massage parlour. Whichever comes under MCC limits, we will take care of it. We are trying to restrain such things and even public has an important role to play. Women’s associations frequently complain because of the faith that have in me and as a mayor it is my duty to respond and readdress the issue.


Q: The issue of St Aloysius College Road led to a controversy. Why did the MCC show less concern towards it?

A: The association of the bank had appealed MCC to rename the road as Mulki Sundarama Shetty Road. The then MCC members and corporator Vinayraj had opposed it. Frankly speaking, this issue was never brought to the notice of the MCC. Being a mayor I do not want to differentiate between communities. People will raise their voice when a road which has vast history is being renamed.

No one opposed the issue in the council meeting. We had even notified the issue in newspapers for 60 days, but no one objected to it including St Aloysius College. Hence, the government had sanctioned it. As a mayor, we called the representatives of both the communities for a meeting in my chamber, but by that time the government itself issued a stay order. As of now, the issue is stagnant.


Q: After the hike in the Town Hall rent, there was a drastic fall in Tulu or Konkani dramas. You have taken a firm decision in deducting the rent up to 50 per cent. There were allegations from your own party members that the mayor took a one-sided decision without any discussion. What is your say on it?

A: Even during my tenure in the health committee, artistes had expressed disappointment over the high rent of the Town Hall. After I got the opportunity to be the mayor, I conducted a meeting and took the decision of reducing the rent. I deny the allegations that I had taken a one-sided decision without consulting anyone.

Myself along with standing committee chairman, deputy mayor and commissioner were present during the meeting. The finance committee chairman came in late to the meeting and left early which was not my fault. During the meeting, artistes shared their problems and thus i approved the rent deduction. In case, I would go to the committee and then get it approved, it would take a lot of time. Artistes have benefitted from this. I do not think that I have committed any mistake. God will bless me.


Q: Do you think everything is normal at present between all the corporators and the mayor? We can see some of them conducting separate meetings and also see blaming you through press conferences?

A: This is a normal thing prior to the mayor’s election as everyone wishes to become a mayor or committee chairman. If it continues even after the election, its is wrong. There is no such rift within our party. If someone says something behind my back, I cannot do anything about it as I really do not care about such things.


Q: People are very disappointed over the putting up of flex banners in the city. When a leader visits Mangaluru, we see flex banners put up all over the place. What action has MCC taken against this and what will you do to restrain flex banners in the city?

A: I have issued orders not to put flex banners twice. I had requested people to remove flex banners wishing me when I became the mayor. After ten days as a mayor, I again strictly ordered not to put flex banners. In case someone had to put up one, they should gain permission from MCC, which will be permitted only for three days.

Politicians and organisations need to understand why we have passed such orders in the city. The government has already banned plastic and law has been enforced which we should followed. Mangaluru's beauty has spoiled because of these flex banners. We have informed this several times, but it still keeps repeating. MCC officials has several works other than removing flex. We are also short of staff.


Q: MCC has launched e-toilets in Mangaluru. Any further plans of extending the facility?

A: Five e-toilets have been installed in Mangaluru, two each in Lalbagh and Kadri Park. When I was the chairman of the health committee, I had visited New Delhi where I noticed such e-toilets. This triggered me to install e-toilets in Mangaluru. I spoke to the environment engineer and told him about the plan of constructing e-toilets in Mangaluru. HPCL came forward to grant funds for e-toilet through their CSR funds. We are thinking of installing more e-toilets in Mangaluru as we need such toilets for the smart city. This will be very useful especially for women.


Q: During the last four months, you are in the headlines in one way or the other. You are courageous enough. Did you ever think of getting into the police department anytime during your childhood days?

A: My life has become more challenging after I was elected as the mayor. I am leading my life in a challenging way and should see how it goes on.


Q: We have heard that you are a Karate champion. When do you get time to practice? What inspired you to learn Karate?

A: We need to have vision to take up anything. I wake up at 4:30 am. I practice Karate from 5 am to 7 am. I want to attend the national level Karate tournament in October or December. So far, I have bagged 58 gold medals and 18 silver medals national and internationally. In 2008, I took part in the national level tournament and bagged the first place which was also my last tournament. I was selected for an international tournament at Turkey, but unfortunately could not attend it. So after nine long years, I will be taking part in a Karate tournament and I am practicing for it.


Q: How you got into politics? Anyone from your family in politics?

A: My parents supported the Congress party and they had moved along with former chief minister Bangarappa during their time. My whole family has always supported Congress. After my marriage, my mother-in-law was a panchayat member for three terms.


Q: The state election is inching closer and your activities as a mayor are also increasing. Are you interested to become an MLA?

A: If God has planned something for you, then no one can stop you from becoming an MLA or minister. I will not say that I am not interested. I can be a candidate. But I do not do activities to bag a MLA seat. I am doing my duties as a mayor. I have certain responsibilities to fulfill.


Q: Did you ever think that you would become the mayor of Mangaluru?

A: No, I never thought that I would be the mayor of Mangaluru. I was interested in sports when I was called to Circuit House by Janardhana Poojary. He insisted me to contest election from Marakada constituency and I refused it. Later, I was called several times and seat was given to me and I became a corporator, for which I will always remain grateful to the Congress party.


Q: Earlier, the Congress party was very strong in the district. But today, there are rifts which has led to several groups within the party. Which group are you a part of?

A: I do not belong to any group. I belong to Congress party. People say in different way but we are all one. There is no group at all. We all belong to one group.


Q: How is your bonding with senior Congressman and mentor B Janardhana Poojary?

A: Yes, it is good. My bonding is good with every leader including Poojary.


Q: What are Congress' chances in the forthcoming election?

A: Everyone knows about the work of chief minister Siddaramaiah. He has fulfilled 93 promises out of 100 mentioned in the election manifesto. So Siddaramaiah-led government has done a tremendous work. People will definitely bless Congress party in the coming days.


Q: You still have eight months left in your tenure. We feel that one year is a very less time for a mayor. What are your future goals?

A: In Mangaluru, we have a lot of work to be done, such as roads, signboards, footpaths, drains and computerisation of MCC. Some programmes have to be carried forward which were started by the previous mayor. One year is a very less time for a mayor to complete many works. If we get more time, then we will be able to do more work. I am planning accordingly about pending works which has to be completed in the remaining time of my tenure.

After becoming the mayor, I have sacrificed all my family functions as I could not give time for my family. I am working hard to live up to the expectations of people.

 

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