A conversation with a Corporator

When I was asked to visit a corporator and understand his work and expenses, I was excited. Corporators are elected members of the Municipal Corporation. They are expected to take care of their ward’s development and resolve public grievances. Along with two friends I visited Mohan Kumar, the Corporator of Nagarabhavi ward in Bengaluru who got elected in 2015.

It was very easy to get an appointment with Mohan Kumar, but his office was not easy to find. Two people gave us wrong directions, but we finally manage to reach his office.

The appointment was for 8 pm, and we were there by 7.57 pm. The building was not well-lit and there was no proof of human existence — so we were scared to enter it in the beginning. However, we gathered our courage and walked in. We saw a few young kids cycling and playing on the lawn.  Near the stairs we met a middle-aged man who told us to go to the first floor where Mohan Kumar has his office.

Pic source: http://bbmp.gov.in/ website

We went there and sat for almost 20 minutes waiting for him. we saw a lot of people who looked like his staff or supporters, and a few residents who had came to share their problems.

It was a long wait. Since this was our first meeting with an important person during our internship, we were super-anxious and tensed. Meanwhile, we tried to modify and arrange the questions we wanted to ask him. We were also worried about whether he would give us enough time to interview him properly, since it was already late in the evening.

We were finally called inside. Mohan Kumar greeted us with a smile. We explained to him why we were there to interview him – we wanted to understand if the Corporator’s salary was sufficient for the work he was doing for the welfare of his ward. Initially he seemed wary and answered us very very carefully. It took some amount of convincing from our side.

Mohan Kumar is a civil engineer from 1985 batch who wanted to do social work. He was inspired by V Somanna who is a Member of Legislative Council (MLC), and under whom he worked as an associate for a couple of years before getting elected as Corporator for Govindrajnagar ward in the 2010 BBMP election.

Mohan Kumar mentioned that he gets an honararium of around Rs 7,000-8,000 per month from the BBMP. He also gets some conveyance allowance of Rs 200-400 per meeting for sitting in the council meetings. These are not enough for the kind of work he does.

He shared his experience of helping a poor family conduct the marriage of their daughter. He said he to spend from his own pocket to run his office, using earnings from his business i.e. real estate, development and construction.

We asked him whether he faced any problems in resolving issues. He replied affirmatively, highlighting the party politics that plays out in developmental works. We then bid good bye to him and came out.