Protests were organised by different political parties in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday to condemn the BJP-led Central government’s alleged indifference and delay in forming the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB). This came on a day state Governor Banwarilal Purohit met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, reportedly to brief him about the law and order situation and widespread protests in the state.
The biggest protest rally was held in Trichy, a city about 300 km south of Chennai, where T T V Dinakaran – Independent MLA and leader of the recently launched Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) party – and farmers’ leader P Ayyakannu led a march of more than 5,000 people. The protesters condemned the Centre for allegedly ignoring Tamil Nadu farmers’ plight for BJP’s benefits in election-bound Karnataka.
Hundreds of people, Dinakaran and Ayyakannu included, were arrested in Trichy; traffic along all major roads in the city came to a standstill for several hours due to the rally. DMK cadres held similar protests in Chennai – traffic on busy Anna Salai and several arterial roads in the city were blocked in the morning hours as a result.
After visiting a group of protesters in police custody, DMK working president and Leader of Opposition in state Assembly M K Stalin called the Edappadi K Palaniswami-led state government a “slave” of the BJP. He slammed the state government for not making any attempt to ensure implementation of the Supreme Court order of February 16.
Stalin said, “This state government is afraid of losing its position if it challenges the BJP (government) at the Centre. It is afraid of (Prime Minister) Modi, so they (CM and other ministers) are being a slave…of Modi.”
In its judgment on petitions filed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments, the Supreme Court had, among other directions, urged the Centre to set up CWMB and the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee to ensure the state receives its due share of water.Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam led a protest hunger strike in Chennai as part of the party’s statewide protest fast. The ministers and AIADMK leaders blamed Opposition DMK for the impasse over the Cauvery water sharing issue.
Stalin alleged that the AIADMK’s hunger strike is a “drama” to cover up the government’s failure.
MDMK leader Vaiko said Cauvery water cannot be released for Tamil Nadu in the absence of a water management board. “That is why Narendra Modi is delaying the board’s formation – he fears a setback in Karnataka elections if the board is implemented,” Vaiko claimed.
The Congress, Dalit party VCK and other minor opposition parties also continued their protests in various parts of the state on Tuesday.
BJP national secretary H Raja said the party looks at both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka the same way, and that the Centre has no bias towards any state.