The BJP on Monday alleged that the Congress government led by Siddaramaiah is behind the separate bandhs called by pro-Kannada outfits and farmers’ organisations in Karnataka and Bengaluru on January 25 and February 4, respectively, both to pressure the state and central governments to resolve the Mahadayi river water-sharing dispute.
The dates of the bandhs coincide with BJP president Amit Shah’s Mysuru rally on January 25 — when the statewide bandh is scheduled — and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s February 4 rally in Bengaluru, the date of the bandh in the state capital.
State BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa has questioned the rationale behind the bandhs and said this was being done by the Congress to counter Shah and Modi. He accused Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of tacitly supporting the bandhs. “What is the need for a statewide bandh? A bandh in the affected areas will suffice. Why should there be a bandh in Mysuru?” he asked.
Pro-Kannada outfits led by the Kannada Chaluvali Paksha leader Vatal Nagaraj first called a statewide bandh on January 27 ahead of a scheduled visit by Modi to address a Karnataka Navanrimana rally as part of the BJP’s build-up to the state elections, slated for April-May. The bandh was rescheduled to January 25 when Amit Shah is set to address a Navanirmana rally in Mysuru.
Pro-farmer outfits in north Karnataka, who have been demanding Modi’s intervention to resolve the Mahadayi water-sharing dispute among riparian states, called the bandh on February 4 after Modi re-scheduled his Karnataka visit to that day.
Yeddyurappa said Siddaramaiah was “trying to create confusion, stop buses and close schools and colleges”. “I have not heard of any Chief Minister behaving like this,’’ he said on Monday.
Leaders of the ruling Congress have indicated they would support the bandh protesters. Siddaramaiah, however, denied government involvement in the bandh. “A bandh is a problem for the government. We have nothing to do with it. The BJP should request the organisers of the bandh to call off the bandh,” he said. The Mahadayi water-sharing issue is at the forefront of politics in the state in the run-up to the elections.
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, in a letter to Yeddyurapa dated December 21, had stated that Goa was willing to consider an amicable settlement on water sharing. Parrikar’s move was widely seen as an attempt to help the BJP in Karnataka ahead of the polls.
The offer came despite Goa’s refusal in the past to hold discussions to sort out the dispute as suggested by Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal. The tribunal has fixed the final hearing from February 6 to February 22, 2018.