Bengaluru has eight ministers, but not one to address the challenges of the bustling city

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SynopsisEver since Bengaluru began growing as an international city with rising economic clout, so did its challenges. Precisely because of this, successive CMs appointed a minister exclusively for Bengaluru. Ananth Nag, V Somanna, KJ George and G Parameshwara are among the leaders who held this portfolio in the past.BENGALURU: Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa not assigning…

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Synopsis

Ever since Bengaluru began growing as an international city with rising economic clout, so did its challenges. Precisely because of this, successive CMs appointed a minister exclusively for Bengaluru. Ananth Nag, V Somanna, KJ George and G Parameshwara are among the leaders who held this portfolio in the past.

BENGALURU: Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa not assigning heavy portfolios of Bengaluru affairs and energy department has not gone down well with sections of investors, citizens and even BJP insiders.

Both are battling enormous challenges and need structural reforms and planning. “It is sad we have full-fledged ministers to handle haj, wakf, inland transport and temples, but no one for demanding and high-pressure sectors like Benglauru development and power,” said an industry executive, not willing to be named.

Some BJP leaders wondered if the CM could provide enough time for Bengaluru, power and finance departments as he is neck-deep in day-to-day governance issues. Besides, he also has to lead BJP’s campaign as the state hops from one election to another. Lok Sabha bypolls to Belagavi and two other assembly seats as well as taluk and zilla panchayat elections are round the corner, for instance.

Ever since Bengaluru began growing as an international city with rising economic clout, so did its challenges. Precisely because of this, successive CMs appointed a minister exclusively for Bengaluru. Ananth Nag, V Somanna, KJ George and G Parameshwara are among the leaders who held this portfolio in the past.

In fact, Yediyurappa during his first stint as CM a decade ago went a step far and appointed a minister for BWSSB to upgrade the city’s drinking water and sewerage systems. That led to the completion of Cauvery IV stage II phase, releasing 500 million litres a day of extra drinking water to Bengaluru, a retired bureaucrat remembered.

Multiple infrastructure projects including smart city, metro rail, sub-urban rail, drinking water and ring-road are going on with scant political supervision. “It is important to have a cabinet minister for Bengaluru as it makes up 60% of state’s GDP and generates more than 60% of state’s taxes. Without political oversight, there will be no dynamism to grow Benglauru and respond to its needs,” said TV Mohandas Pai, chairman at Aarin Capital, a venture fund.

The CM is in charge of the whole state, and it is difficult for him to give adequate attention to Bengaluru, Pai said and added. “Bureaucrats alone cannot meet people’s needs as many issues require bold policy and political decisions. Running Bengaluru is as extremely complex as governing Karnataka.”

The lack of political oversight is clearly evident in the power sector. ET had reported in October how manufacturing units in Bidadi industrial area are stuttering for want of reliable electricity supply even as Karnataka preens itself as power-surplus.


The development of Bengaluru and its positioning as the gateway to India for foreign capital demands ministerial focus on basic sectors like road development and power availability. Without this not just Karnataka but India too will start lagging, said Shekar Viswanathan, former vice chairman at Toyota Kirloskar Motor.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for instance, is keeping with himself only strategically important portfolios like atomic energy and space. He has delegated all others, and reviews the work of ministers. Yediyurappa too should supervise the work of his teammates rather than running a department or two himself, a BJP leader said.

Bengaluru has eight ministers, and the irony is most are assigned a district outside, none for the city.

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