Mahadayi river row: BJP dubs bandhs in Karnataka 'politically-motivated', accuses Siddaramaiah of being involved

The call for two bandhs in Karnataka over the next two weeks in the inter-state Mahadayi river water dispute with Goa has been termed as "politically-motivated" by the BJP. Pro-Kannada organisations have decided to call a state-wide bandh on 25 January and a Bengaluru bandh on 4 February.

The party alleged that the Congress government had a role in selection of bandh dates as BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to visit the poll bound state to take part in Nav Karnataka Parivartan Yatra organised by the state unit on the same days.

 Mahadayi river row: BJP dubs bandhs in Karnataka politically-motivated, accuses Siddaramaiah of being involved

File image of BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa. AFP

Shah is scheduled to address a rally in Mysuru on 25 January and Modi is expected to address a rally of party workers in Bengaluru on 4 February.

"There is no necessity for a Karnataka bandh. If there was a bandh in the affected area, it is fine. However, what has Mysuru got to do with the issue?" BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa asked.

Accusing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of extending support to the bandh with "malicious" intent, he said "the chief minister is trying to create confusion, stop buses and close schools and colleges as done in the past....I have not heard of any chief minister behaving in such a manner."

The 25 January programme would go ahead as planned, he said in Mysuru and added that his party was in favour of protecting the state's interests on the Mahadayi issue.

Accusing Congress of playing politics, Leader of Opposition Jagadish Shettar questioned the need to call for a bandh in Bengaluru on 4 February, when a state-wide call had been given on 25 January.

This clearly shows that there was political malice and that the chief minister is directly involved in planning it, he said in Huballi.

"When the prime minister is coming for a political event, if they are doing this it is clear that they are terrified... On hearing that Modi is coming Siddaramaiah and the Congress start trembling, so they want to create disturbance," he alleged.

Though differences have emerged among outfits over the bandh call, Vatal Nagaraj, who heads 'Kannada O koota', an umbrella organisation of Kannada bodies, said there would be a state-wide dawn to dusk bandh on 25 January, demanding the prime minister's intervention.

Speaking to News18, Nagaraj said that there will be a total bandh on both the days and thousands of activists will greet Modi and Shah with black flags.

"Modi is playing politics. The BJP is playing with the sentiments of Kannadigas. Their Goa minister called us names, but the BJP high command maintained a silence over it. Karnataka people don't even have water for drinking purposes. However, the prime minister is not telling Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar to release water to Karnataka. If they want our vote, they must work for us. Kannadigas' vote is not BJP's inheritance," he was quoted as saying in the report.

Hitting back at the BJP, Siddaramaiah termed BJP's allegations as baseless.

"Will Nagaraj or Kannada organisations listen to government... why should we ask them to organise bandh? It is a problem for the government if there is a bandh," he said "We have nothing to do with it, let BJP go and request Kannada organisers against the bandh," he added.

Karnataka, that has locked horns with neighbouring Goa on sharing Mahadayi River water, is seeking release of 7.6 thousand million cubic feet of water for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.

The project is being undertaken to improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and districts of Belagavi and Gadag.

Attempts have been made by Karnataka to amicably resolve the issue pending before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal even as discussions have failed to bear fruit.

Repeated efforts by the state seeking prime minister's intervention to solve the issue have also not been successful.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jan 23, 2018 12:22:10 IST