Bengaluru to see bandh today over Cauvery water row


As the Cauvery water row continues to grip Karnataka and tensions rise in Mandya and Mysore, a Bengaluru bandh has been announced for tomorrow under the leadership of prominent farmer leader Kuruburu Shanthakumar and AAP state president Mukyamantri Chandru.
The bandh has garnered support from over 90 organisations, including farmers’ groups, pro-Kannada advocates, and theatre owners. Yet, consensus remains elusive among hotel owners and bus drivers. Nevertheless, prevailing sentiments suggest that the bandh stands a good chance of success, driven by the pressing Cauvery issue.
Simultaneously, another Karnataka bandh is slated for 29 September, led by Vatal Nagaraj, the chief of the Kannada movement’s Vatal party. This call to action has received widespread backing from hundreds of organisations. During a recent meeting at a private hotel, unanimous agreement was reached to enforce a Karnataka bandh on 29 September, resulting in two significant disruptions within a single week. With the Lok Sabha elections on the horizon, these developments have become a focal point in the state’s political landscape.
The dual challenges of drought and the Cauvery issue are causing significant distress for the Karnataka state government as the Lok Sabha elections approach. Finding a solution to the intricate Cauvery problem, exacerbated by insufficient rainfall that has left state reservoirs depleted, remains a top priority. Despite the adverse conditions, the Supreme Court has mandated the release of water to Tamil Nadu. Failing to comply with this court order would constitute contempt of court, potentially leaving the state without adequate drinking water. Consequently, the state government finds itself at an impasse, searching for a viable solution.
Seizing the opportunity, the BJP and JDS parties have leveraged their positions to gain political advantage. While ostensibly supporting Cauvery activists, they have positioned themselves in opposition to the state government’s actions. The state government maintains that it has already released sufficient water to Tamil Nadu, with the Centre now pushing for additional measures. Critics argue that more effective arguments should have been presented in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the JDS and BJP have forged an electoral alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, presenting a united front that could pose challenges for the Congress.
The Cauvery issue is not just a political matter, but a matter of survival for the state’s farmers, particularly in Mandya and Mysore. Diminishing water levels also threaten Bangalore city’s access to drinking water, making this an emotionally charged issue that resonates with all residents. At this critical juncture, the state government is faced with the imperative to take decisive action. The decision not to release water to Tamil Nadu could have solidified Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s status as a hero, but such a move did not materialise, leaving many pointing fingers at the Central government.
The JDS and BJP parties have skilfully exploited this situation, strengthening their positions in Mandya and Mysore. In the last Assembly elections, the Congress dominated this region, but the unified JDS and BJP parties are now leveraging the Cauvery issue to challenge the state government, employing it as a potent political tool.
Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda has entered the fray, appealing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to mediate in the Cauvery river water sharing dispute, which is adversely affecting Karnataka’s farmers due to water shortages. Deve Gowda emphasised that his efforts were driven by a non-partisan commitment to the people’s welfare and criticised the stances of both national parties over the past six decades.
Reflecting on his past actions, he said, “I have also fought against BJP and Congress for the suffering of the people of the country. In the Manmohan Singh government, there were four ministers in our state, but no one spoke. I fought as a single MP. Today, this party is not just for power. I say with self-respect that Kumaraswamy went to Dang immediately after coming from Delhi and supported the farmers.”
The potential solution to this complex issue, according to Deve Gowda, lies in Prime Minister Modi’s mediation and negotiation skills to address the injustices received by Karnataka in the Cauvery river water sharing matter. In response, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah expressed his approval of Deve Gowda’s letter to the Prime Minister, acknowledging the seriousness of the Cauvery dispute and its impact on the drought-stricken state. Siddaramaiah welcomed Deve Gowda’s stance on the matter as a positive step toward resolution.