Mangaluru, October 24, 2019: Political parties in Mangaluru are once again in poll mode with the date of MCC elections announced and the election slated to be held on November 12.
The Congress which had won the MCC polls held last in 2013 is optimistic of a win even this time. Already senior Congress leader and former CM Siddaramaiah had been to the city to address the party workers and erstwhile Congress corporators to boost their morale.
The BJP on its part is expected to leave no stone unturned in wresting the Mangaluru City Corporation administration from the hands of the Congress. It has the added advantage of having two MLAs representing the party in Mangaluru North and South Assembly constituencies.
During the previous five year rule in the MCC, a sum of Rs 403.5 crore has been spent towards 11,688 works between 2014-15 to 2018-19. But problems have been persisting in the city where several works have been initiated under the Smart City scheme.
Flooding of roads, absence of footpaths, side drains and improper drainage system has been a perennial problem. It is also a fact that except widening and concretisation of a few roads, the city has not been able to claim any much development. Though the city seemed to have a very pro-active leader during the tenure of Kavitha Sanil as Mayor in 2017-18, the impact on ground was not that impressive. As for the rest the last five years saw Mahabala Maarla, Jacintha Vijay Alfred, Harinath and Bhasker K as the mayors.
Municipal Council of Mangalore came into existence on 23rd May 1886 with the ratification of the Madras Town Improvement Act in 1865. Mangaluru turned into a City Municipality in the year 1920 and continued to be so till the constitution of the Mangalore City Corporation in 1980. The Corporation limits constantly expanded with the inclusion of Surathkal Town Municipality, Baikampady, Panambur, Kulai and Hosabettu villages in 1996. During the year 2002, the Corporation limits extended further to villages of Kannur, Bajal, Thiruvail and Kudupu on the eastern side.
The first elections after Mangaluru local administrative body was upgraded as a City Corporation, was held in 1984 and saw the Congress emerging to power. The Congress won the subsequent elections in 1990 and 1997. The MCC was under the Administrative officer between 1995 and 1997. In the 1997 election no party could get a clear majority. The Congress which had 30 seats and the JD(S) with six seats formed a coalition administration.
In the 2002 elections it was the Cognress once again. The party won 40 seats as against the 12 seats of BJP. However in 2007 elections the BJP for the first time won control over the MCC by winning 35 as against 20 seats of the Congress. Interestingly, during the last year of this term of the BJP, a factual error while filing nomination by the BJP candidate eventually earned the mayor position for Gulzar Banu of the Congress. The unexpected development took place when the nomination papers filed by BJP candidate Roopa D Bangera was rejected by the returning officer as she had failed to submit her caste certificate, which was a requirement to verify her eligibility criteria.
In 2007 and 2013 elections, the Congress once again gained an upper hand in the MCC.
Mangaluru City Corporation limits presently has a total of 3.87 lakh voters. The previous elections saw a polling percentage of 63.28 which is less considering its tag of a city of intelligent and enterprising populace.
In a way Mangaluru is a city of some sort of paradoxes. It takes pride of place among the most literate towns in the country, but also also has the highest cases of Malaria and Dengue. The city claims to have businesses ranging from local to global but many of it’s market places are still in mess. The costliest cars hit the roads, but there is craving for proper parking lot.
The only visible attribute to the word ‘development’ here, is the changing skyline that replaces the large spreads of coconut groves with multi-storied apartments. With concrete spirals of residential flats and a few malls, there is nothing that can constructively explain the development of this B-tier city.
The historically significant port city is crying for a farsighted approach in urban planning with restoration of lung spaces,decongestion of traffic, widened roads with proper shoulders and footpaths, clean and spacious market places, hawker zones etc.