Chennai: Tamil Nadu’s main opposition party – the DMK – along with other parties like Congress, CPI(M) and CPI will hold a state-wide bandh or shutdown today. The reason behind the shutdown is the Cauvery water issue – a decades-old dispute between Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring state Karnataka. The DMK-led opposition parties are demanding that the Cauvery Management Board, as ordered by the Supreme Court, be set up immediately. They have accused the central government of delaying the setting up of the Cauvery Management Board due to electoral gains in the upcoming Assembly election in Karnataka due next month.
DMK’s working president MK Stalin had met friendly opposition parties in Chennai on April 1, seeking their support for today’s state-wide shutdown. He even appealed to all sections of society, including farmers and traders, to support the shutdown and unite for the Cauvery cause.
Tamil Nadu Congress president S Thirunavukkarasar, VCK (Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi) chief Thirumavalavan, state secretaries of the CPI (M) and the CPI – K Balakrishnan and R Mutharasan, respectively – were among the leaders who attended the meeting organised by Mr Stalin.
A “Cauvery Rights Retrieval Yatra,” will be held after the bandh (shutdown), MK Stalin said on Sunday. The rally would see participation of all friendly party leaders, he said, adding that it will begin from the Cauvery Delta region.
The DMK leader went on to say that “Black flags will be shown to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet colleagues during their visit to Tamil Nadu. This will be done to condemn them for not setting up the Cauvery Management Board, despite the order of the Supreme Court.”
Last week Mr Stalin had said that Prime Minister Modi is expected to visit Tamil Nadu on April 15.
A resolution adopted after the meeting of Tamil Nadu’s opposition leaders on April 1 stated that “Tamil Nadu has been pushed to hold protest demonstrations and agitations seeking to implement the order of the Supreme Court on the Cauvery issue due to the collective negligence of the central and state governments.”
Condemning the state and the centre, the resolution stated that the ruling AIADMK regime, a “partner,” of the central government has “bowed” before it.
Both the centre and the Tamil Nadu government had moved the Supreme Court on March 31 over the issue of constitution and composition of the Cauvery Water Management Board in compliance with the February 16 verdict of the top court regarding the issue.
In its February 16 verdict, the Supreme Court had raised Karnataka’s existing share of 270 tmcft of water by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share of Cauvery river water, but compensated it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a “higher pedestal”.
It had granted six weeks to the centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its 465-page judgement, which modified the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal Award.
The six-week period ended on March 29.
With anger sweeping Tamil Nadu over the centre seeking more time to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board (CMB), citing elections in neighbouring Karnataka, the ruling AIADMK too had called for a hunger strike on April 3. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami and his deputy O Pannerselvam had joined the day-long hunger strike. AIADMK workers and supporters in all district headquarters of the state had also gone on hunger strike for the day. Over 21 lakh shops were also reportedly shut across Tamil Nadu.
Yesterday, Tamil actor-turned-politician and Makkal Neethi Maiyam president Kamal Haasan said that the centre is committing a huge “blunder” by not forming the Cauvery Management Board. Mr Haasan also accused the centre and various political parties of “diverting the attention of the people from the main issue.” He even accused the AIADMK government in the state of “hiding behind the back” of the central government and being “subservient” to them.