Mangalore: Pothole-ridden Roads - Can the BJP Cash in on the Opportunity?
by Florine Roche - Mangalore
Daijiworld Media Network
October 4, 2007
Having secured a comfortablee majority in the Mangalore City Corporation for the first time, the euphoria in the BJP camp is quite understandable. The dust of this emphatic victory is yet to settle down as the victorious candidates are busy taking a bumpy ride in the roads of Mangalore to celebrate their victory.
But the common people feel that the BJP's "road" to success was pothole-ridden streets of Mangalore. Quite naturally, they are restless to know the priorities of the newly-elected corporators vis-à-vis the so-called roads of the city.
Though the BJP corporators attribute their success to a combination of factors, they have decided that, once assuming power, they would accord top priority to improving the condition of the roads.
Naveenchandra K, the BJP corporator-elect from 29th ward who created history of sorts by polling in his favour 81% of the total votes polled, says, "Providing drinking water, improving the condition of roads and streamlining of overflowing drainages will be given top priority." A 38-year-old bachelor boy, St Aloysius College alumnus and a post-graduate in Commerce, Naveenchandra, attributes his success to the good work he has done in his ward and to his clean image. "In the last 23 years, the Congress party gave priority only to civil works. We will concentrate on the overall development of Mangalore on a priority basis," he assures.
It is assumed that if the mayor's post is reserved for a backward class community, Naveenchandra, who belongs to the Devadiga community, will be a strong contender to don the role of the first citizen.
Shankar Bhat and James D'Souza (BJP)
James D'Souza, who won from the 37th Maroli ward as a BJP candidate with a wide margin, feels that bad roads were a contributing factor to the victory of the BJP. "We will prove that the administration of the BJP will be far better than the earlier 22 years of Congress rule. We will ensure that within 2 years Mangalore roads will be upgraded to perfection and to the satisfaction of the people," he asserts with confidence. James, who earlier represented Congress and crossed over to the BJP recently, feels "Candidates who had worked for the welfare and development of the respective area have been suitably recognized and rewarded by the people. I am a classic example of this and I will work for their betterment."
In 23rd Derebail East ward, four-time corporator Shankar Bhat defeated Mahabala Marla, a Congress heavyweight, one who is considered a kingmaker in all mayoral polls in the recent past and himself a prospective mayoral candidate. Bhat is the front-runner for the mayor's post. Being a senior party leader with a clean image, he is expected to be the party's unanimous and natural choice for the post, unless the reservation factor comes into picture which could turn his dreams topsy-turvy.
"People of this city have definitely suffered a great deal due to the pathetic condition of our roads. Naturally, development of roads will be the main part of our agenda during our tenure. We have plans to concrete all the roads of Mangalore within the next two years. But the patch-work will start immediately once the rain stops. I have started the patchwork in my ward," he stated.
Concreting of major roads needs funds and Shankar Bhat says that the party will make use of both the central and state funds for the purpose. "MLA Krishna Palemar has brought a special grant of 28 crore from his MLA fund and another 12 crore have been approved by the 12th Finance Commission and we will use them for the purpose." Apart from improving the road network, providing clean drinking water, drainage and storm water drainage also tops the list of priorities of Shankar Bhat and Co.
However, it will take another 15 days for the formalities to be completed and for the new elected representatives to assume office. Will the newly-elected corporators, a sizeable chunk of them being freshers and women, live up to the high expectations of the people? That is a million-dollar question.