Skip to main content

Kicking off a 'political career' in an idea-based, grassroots level political party

Despite having been following politics for the longest time, and now studying it full time, I never joined a political party. When people used to ask me "who do you support?", my answer was standard, "no one". Luckily for me, ever since turning 18 and being eligible to vote, there hasn't been an election in which I'd be forced to cast my vote and tell people that I have made a definitive choice about a particular political party. At a time when politics has become ever so polarising and dirty, I couldn't be happier to associate myself with the BNP.

It was in February 2020 that I was introduced to the Bengaluru NavaNiramana Party. I found their vision, leadership and ideas incredibly refreshing. Though I was aware of their launch/ kickoff meeting that took place in Freedom Park in early 2020, due to a friend's TEDx talk taking place simultaneously, I could not attend. Then, between Board Exams and the lockdown that took us all by surprise, I forgot about the BNP.

Team NY at Krishan Rao Park conducting
 a survey on waste management 

When I returned to Bangalore in November, owing to a new lockdown being imposed in France, I was determined to compensate for the lost opportunity of studying abroad by doing something impactful and meaningful in my city. I looked up the BNP again and was impressed by the work they had done despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. Their then-recently launched Citizen's Portal piqued my curiosity, and I found myself analysing various projects undertaken in my ward; and even observed a few discrepancies but that is a story for another day. Almost as if they could read my mind, when I was about to get in touch with the BNP leadership about including youth in the party, the Nava Yuva (Youth Wing), led by 21-year-old Rishvanjas Raghavan was launched. I found myself attending the introductory webinar and soon joining the Nava Yuva, which at the point had around 25-30 people! It has been one of the best decisions made last year, for a number of reasons.

The Nava Yuva and the BNP have taught me a lot about local governance, party building, the role of corporators, MLAs and MPs. It has shattered many myths and misconceptions about the system, and most importantly, has made me more civically aware and engaged with my city. As clich├ęd as this sounds, it has been a great learning experience; despite having been taught about local governance and the role of different politicians since a young age, it was only after joining the party that I clearly understood the various roles held by different Parliamentarians - the MPs, MLAs and Corporators. I always thought that the BBMP, the governing body of the city of Bangalore, was helpless and lacked funds. This couldn't be more untrue. The BBMP has an annual budget of INR 10k cr (EUR 1.1 Billion), divided between 198 wards. This roughly works out to around INR 50 cr (EUR 5.7 Million) per year, per ward. According to data collected by the BNP, the total area of the wards in Bangalore amounts to 709.49 sq. km, which when divided by 198, equals 3.58 sq. km (per ward). Though wards are of different sizes, this sort of puts things into perspective. Each 3.58 sq. km area in Bangalore receives around INR 50 cr/ EUR 5.7 M per year, yet our roads are perpetually pothole infested, our parks are just average and our lakes are frothing. There seems to be a disconnect between infrastructure development and the amount of money spent on one city!

What makes the BNP unique is its clear focus on the city. It's the only party in the country, and probably the world which focusses on only city-level politics. The 'ceiling of ambition' imposed by the charter of the BNP ensures that our focus is not lost on namma nagara (our city)! Even if the General Secretary of the party, Srikanth Narsimhan decides that he wants to contest state-level elections, he will not be allowed to do it under this party's header. While political parties in the past have used municipal elections as a stepping stone into the more 'lucrative' positions in the State or National Assemblies, the BNP's goal is only Namma Bengaluru. We invite our members to exercise their Constitutionally guaranteed right of voting in state and national elections, for any party of their choice. All we ask for is for their vote to be cast in our favour during municipal elections. After all, while one may be indirectly affected by what our legislators decide on our behalf at the state or national level, immediate civic problems that we face on a day to day basis - roads, lakes, gardens, parks, waste management, primary health care, can only be solved if one's ward is governed by an efficient and honest corporator. 

Team NY at Cubbon Park, launching the survey
on 'Youth in Governance'

Though we have not been in power yet, working with the system, externally, the BNP has achieved a lot; be it distributing ration during the ill-planned lockdown, conducting health camps for the city's most vulnerable and disadvantaged, clean up drives, unearthing the city's 4g scam and more. The youth wing of the party has been busy educating the next generation about their roles and responsibilities, local governance, how they can contribute, conducting surveys to gauge people's opinions about the BBMP, youth in governance etc. The Nava Yuva recently launched the 'Can a youngster win your vote?' series in which we ask influencers and activists from around the city to grill us about local governance and the BBMP to test us about our skills and knowledge. I took a shot at episode 1, and a recording of the live session can be accessed here

Through the blog, you may have gotten an idea about BNP's vision, and what I find respectable. It all starts with their decentralised system of functioning, which ensures that power is not concentrated (and misused) at the helm. Each ward has a 'corporator team' which is in charge of selecting the candidate to whom the party ticket will be given when the BBMP elections are announced. The central leadership team has a limited say in who gets the party ticket, thereby removing the scope for corruption or any of the illegal yet common practices of other political parties. It is a common occurrence in many wards reserved for women, for their husbands to be the de-facto corporator while the wife is merely the de-jure/ Constitutional corporator. BNP does not and will not stand this. Besides fielding candidates in the Constitutionally mandated 33% of the wards, the BNP aims to field women in at least 50% of the wards, something that other parties should have done long ago! The inclusion of the youth by fielding members of the Nava Yuva (usually under the age of 30 years old) is another goal of the BNP. 

Team BNP @ the 'Nimma Arogya' Health Camp at a
slum in Nagavarapalya (Ward 57)
I know that it may sound utopian for a new age, honest political party to win even a single ward in an election in which mainstream, national political parties are involved. I held this view as well until I joined the party and understood the nuances of winning a municipal election. In a two way contest (as the case has been until now), a candidate requires only 5,000-10,000 votes to win an election. With the BNP entering, and in a three-way contest, the odds are even more in our favour because of the low number of votes required to win a ward. Further, the leadership team has a lot of experience in this field, albeit indirectly. The General Secretary himself is the founder of the Bangalore Apartment's Federation, an organisation of 1000 odd apartment complexes in Bangalore. We have activists like those who led the 'Steel Flyover Beda' movement, members of various organisations and experts who have in some way or the other contributed to shaping the city. Most importantly, we have frustrated citizens who are willing to do anything within their capacity to bring about change in the city, and that's what makes the BNP special and unique. By mobilising various groups of people, among whom in many cases someone in the party has already established their reputation/name with, I am confident that the BNP stands a great chance in 2021!

Team BNP @ Nagavarapalya Slum Health Camp (Ward 57)

Enough about the BNP! Let's talk about how you can help us.

Are you interested in joining/ contributing? Check out our website, or even better, make a donation (100% tax-deductible, with no tax-deductible limit) today!

What are some ways in which you can help?

  • Join the BNP/ NY and your local WhatsApp groups; show your support, even as a dormant group member 
  • Get yourself involved in the system by attending ward committee meetings (there's one on Feb 6, contact your Nodal Officer for details!)
  • Attend a BNP/ NY event/ camp
  • Attend our online brainstorming meetings!
  • Take on an official role/ position within the party/ NY
  • Think about contesting and positioning yourself a candidate!
  • Spread our message, get people to join and raise funds!
  • There's a lot more you can do, drop me/ the BNP a line and get started

Ward #80: One of our recent victories - getting a part of Thamarai Kannan Road cleaned up by following up with the Nodal Officer, Health Inspector and Supervisor of the ward (before)

Ward #80: Thamrai Kannan Road (after!)

Ward #80: Responding to a citizen's complaint of garbage ( mostly garden waste) being strewn oand blocking footpath access outside her house for over a week (before)

Ward #80: (after!)

Through this article, I have shown you only a glimpse of what the BNP has done and achieved so far.  I'll leave you with a final thought. If the BNP has managed to achieve this much, despite being outside the system, imagine the wonders we can achieve if we are given a chance to work from within!

A few useful links 


  1. Highly informative...
    (and tempting xD )
    Thanks for sharing mate!

    Kudos to you guys for all the great work!

  2. The party’s vision is promising and your efforts commendable. Great going Sanjith, the Nava Yuva!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Visiting the Kasturinagar (KA-03) RTO - a tumultuous but manageable experience to get a Learner's/ Driver's License without an agent/ driving school

Ask anyone, and I can guarantee that they will have a story (and in most cases, many stories) about their trip, or rather, numerous trips to the RTO for something as simple as getting a Learner's License (LL) or a Driver's License (DL). In this blog, I hope to make your life a tad bit easier by guiding you through the entire process, which may seem easy at first but is full of (overcome able) challenges if you know what you are doing. I turned 18 in January this year, and besides cutting a cake, I worked on my LL application online. I challenged myself to complete the entire LL to DL process by myself and without the help of an agent or a driving school, unlike what the majority do. The lengthy application process and multiple visits to the RTO, impressed upon me why most people decided to pay a little extra to get an agent to do it for them. Still, I was determined not to pay a single rupee more than the official cost. I succeeded.  Do note that this answer is concerning the K

The Young Adults Series at the Bangalore International Centre

 November 2020 With France reimposing lockdown restrictions, closing universities, and restricting people's movement to just 1 hour per day, I decided to fly back to India. My rationale was simple; rather than attending online classes in a foreign city, with no roommates, no extra-curricular activities during which I would have usually interacted with people, and it being illegal to meet anyone you are not living with, it made more sense to return to a safer environment in which I could enjoy more freedom, as Bangalore was in a pretty good state, at least compared to France.  While waiting to board my flight at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and came across a post published by the Bangalore International Centre . Clickbait-ly titled  'MUN Ki Baat'  (for those who don't get the reference: PM Modi has a monthly radio show called 'Man Ki Baat'), it piqued my curiosity, and I found myself watching a recording of it. When I in

How the Indira Canteen is a Failure and a Success

Source Indira Canteen is a fast food joint that has been touted as CM Siddaramaiah 's pet project in the city of Bengaluru, Karnataka. The canteen aims to serve 500 people per meal per day. Rahul Gandhi inaugurated this populist scheme of the Congress led Karnataka Government on Independence Day 2017. This was done in run up to the Karnataka Assembly Elections that is taking place five days from today. All 197 wards have their own Indira Canteen, built at a cost of approximately INR 30 lakhs each {1} . The setting up of this canteen is obviously to reduce hunger among the poor. Indira Canteen serves food at heavily subsidized rates by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike. Breakfast can be availed at Rs. 5 and lunch at Rs. 10. The entire scheme has been well thought of and according to reports has been running smoothly {2} . The canteens are still operational (this is itself a major win for the Government), food is being cooked at remote locations by companies to whom thi

Opinion on the Tax Rebate - Budget 2019

Source The Union Budget of India that was presented on Feb 1, 2019 was a populist-vote bank driven one filled with proposals to woo all possible stakeholders who are eligible to vote. Be it farmers, the middle class or the economically stronger ones, all sections of society after a brief glance at the highlights of the budget will be content with what Piyush Goyal has to offer in the sixth and final Budget of this term of the NDA. Although I found many parts of the budget a questionable waste of money to fuel populist schemes, I did enjoy certain parts of it, especially the newly introduced tax rebate. The proposed tax rebate  in which income upto INR 5 lakhs is essentially tax-free is one that I wholly welcome for many reasons. The tax-rebate proposal and terms is something that I welcome unconditionally but the way how the Finance Minister has portrayed income up to INR 6.5 lakhs tax free (with the disclaimer that this is only possible if all the 'right' investments ar

A Visit To Chitradurga

Chitradurga Fort is located in the city of Chitradurga in Karnataka .  It is about 200 km from Bangalore and 200 km from Hubli too. It is accessible from most cities and small towns by buses and trains. You can also come here by car. Its website is At Chitradurga Fort Entrance Clouds Kissing The Hill In Chitradurga there are many points of interest. Its main point of interest is called the Chitradurga Fort. The  fort was built in the 17 th century by the chieftain of the area which was under the Vijaynagar Empire . Further into the fort the sights are breathtaking. I could see clouds kissing the hillocks. The fort was a city in the olden day. It’s surrounded by a 32 km moat which cannot be seen everywhere today. An interesting fact about this fort is that a lot of importance is given to it, though it was just built by a local chieftain. The fort is mostly made of stone so it is advisable to go early in the morning before the scor

FUD! - RBI's Decision Sends Worldwide Crypto Markets into a Tizzy - What is the actual scenario like?

India's central bank, the Reserve Bank of India on 5th April, 2018 announced that all regulated entities such as banks will not be allowed to deal with cryptocurrencies (Virtual Currencies as they call them). Banks have been told to wind up all transactions with cryptocurrency exchanges within three months. Within minutes of this announcement, Bitcoin slumped 27%. Global markets attributed the fall in price to RBI's decision as India has a pretty large cryptocurrency investor market. However, RBI's decision is outdated and virtually has no effect on investors and exchanges. Source A few months ago, couple of banks like HDFC bank had voluntarily  withdrawn from dealing with cryptocurrency exchanges. I know this as a fact as when I started investing, I initially tried to deposit money on a cryptocurrency exchange using HDFC bank as I generally used their services, but due to them pulling out, I was forced to look at other options. This was around September, 2017. Duri

Android Lollipop (5.0.2) Update

Android Lollipop After a gruelling 2 hours, my OS was updated. I had updated my Moto G 2nd Generation's OS from Android KitKat (Android 4.4.4) to the latest Android Lollipop (Android 5.0.2). After downloading the 350+ MB OS, I couldn't wait to see the new user interface and OS. I had read excellent reviews online since the OS had been released to other parts of the world before it was released in India on 23rd January, 2015. Lock Screen: The minute my phone had switched off and switched on I could clearly see the differences. Since I had left my phone for over 2 hours I had many notifications.The notifications appeared on the lock screen, just like in an iPhone. On the bottom left corner of the screen you can directly go to the dialer by dragging the phone icon and then keying in the password. On the bottom right corner, you can drag the camera icon and directly open your camera. Just like previous versions, photos clicked by the owner of the phone cannot be seen