Three years ago there was deep engagement at the Corporator elections by WR after the 2 previous years of work on the ground leading to a recognition that good governance was crucial if we are to make any headway in mahadevpura given the bad state of the constituency. No amount of citizens sweeping up the streets was going to fix the deeper problem. So we went about encouraging people to register to vote. But we were in for a shock! Masses of people we had encouraged to register were not being registered! There were stories after stories of people trying to register but failing for many years. Something was fishy. On the other hand we were equally dismayed at how many residents simply didn’t see how important this was.
No matter. Onwards after those eye opening Corporator elections, we pushed hard for ward committees for non partisan citizen participation. It worked to a good extent and however it functions now, it is still amongst the best in Bangalore and a first!
Over the next 2 years, the team worked very hard to collaborate with both parties elected here at Corporator levels and also the MLA. We saw first hand the innumerable number of times the elected official either interfered with good work or simply didn’t push for what he could have. The bureucrats were clearly in deference to the elected. Party was steadily showing up to be non relevant. No senior party member above the elected member could do anything material in this constituency.
Through this time period, we kept attempting to see how to get people registered. And steady painstaking work to raise awareness on the need to get registered had to happen alongside. Thus MVR was born as a separate campaign.
Steady methodical work by MVR uncovered serious evidence of disenfranchisement in Mahadevpura. We filed our first ever PIL from Whitefield Rising to support MVR. The CEO Karnataka Mr Sanjeev kumar made a surprise visit to ramagondanahalli office and acknowledged the wrongdoings ! This further triggered the many new registrations! First notable large win!
Fast Forward to early 2018 and the Home Stretch to the Karnataka State Assembly Elections
We partnered with many citizen groups in the area and beyond. Together we built a joint manifesto signed by the top candidates, ran a wonderful panel discussion between them and recorded one on one videos with them. We painstakingly built a voter information kit so the residents could attempt to undesrtand their candidates better.
Today is may 12. Rest in glory MVR no matter the outcome we have achieved the below.
1)Wehave triggered awareness in mahadevpura residents that vote they must no matter the quality of candidates. Only then can we trigger the parties to up the calibre of candidates they put forward if they want to win.
2) Residents have learnt that they must vote for the quality of their candidate in their constituency and not worry about who is winnable or who is going to be CM/PM. They have understood that at the Assembly elections , voting for ideology could be at the cost of voting for a poor candidate who cannot solve your local problems.
3)The massive response by the parties themselves closer to elections indicates they woke up this serious threat from residents who have no agenda or allegiance to any party and simply want governance!
4)The Parties have finally learnt that we are not supporting any one pary . It was entertaining to see them assume our allegiance to the “other” party. We had worried them all uniformly. Now they know the candidate cannot ride on party glory.
5)Finally here are the metrics that will tell if we have truly succeeded.
-Was the urban voter turnout massively higher than before.
– Will the elected reprsentative therefore become more accountable going forward.
– Will the Corporator Elections see a high calibre of candidates from each party.
-Will Mahadevpura actually see a transformation upwards?
May 15th will only begin to tell. Corporator Elections will be another key milestone in 2 years. Gear up. We have only just begun.