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"Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in."
- Napoleon Bonaparte

Why are elected leaders not keen on governance ?

When Ashwin Mahesh informed me that he was contesting for the legislative council elections from the Bengaluru Graduates’ constituency, I wasn’t surprised. I have known him for many years and we have worked together on solving various civic and governance issues of Bengaluru as part of ABIDe, BBMP TAC and several other civic forums and official committees.

We have authored voluminous reports and Bills on issues of governance and infrastructure as ABIDe members and have tried to drum up support from various quarters for implementation of reforms such as the ones the Bengaluru Regional Governance Act (BRGA) was supposed to herald. We have had limited and sporadic successes working through the system.

Once we managed to convince the urban development minster to call a meeting of all MLAs so that these reforms could be discussed in an open forum and doubts, if any, cleared. The minister and officers came and waited, but only one MLA out of the 28 in Bengaluru showed up. The meeting was cancelled and it never took place again. Apparently the reason why more MLAs didn’t show up was because they didnt want to lose control over the city. The BRGA is still gathering dust in government files. But why are our elected representatives not interested in civic and governance issues? Do they really understand the magnitude of the problem and are they equipped to handle them? The answer is unfortunately, NO!

The reasons are obvious. Most of our politicians have not had any career other than politics. They don’t have the technical knowledge or competence to comprehend complex issues of governance. Being in government allows them to exercise power, not improve governance. People, especially the educated professionals and urban middle class, have seen through their opportunistic games and are willing to vote for credible candidates, but find that most candidates have questionable credentials. They are faced with the TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor. So many abstain from voting and are now demanding the “Right to Reject”, meaning the right not to vote for any of the candidates in the running.

Given the above state of affairs, Ashwin’s candidature for an MLC’s position is noteworthy as he is a multifaceted personality, highly educated and with a successful career. Besides being grounded and approachable, he understands the problems facing our cities and has already come out with solutions for many of them.

Compare him with any professional politician and he stands heads and shoulders above them. He is a professional, entering the world of politics, with the express purpose of serving the people and represents the new face of Indian politics. We should embrace it.

My vote is for Ashwin and we need many more such candidates in future assembly and parliamentary elections to reform our political system.

RK Misra in Deccan Chronicle

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