NEW DELHI: In a rare show of solidarity, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday with a 52-member delegation of religious and political leaders cutting across party lines, to seek relief for the severely drought-hit northern part of the State.
Asking for the Prime Minister’s immediate intervention for an out-of-Tribunal settlement on the Mahadayi river water sharing issue, involving Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, the delegation urged him to call a meeting of Chief Ministers of the three concerned states and include Andhra Pradesh as well.
But the Prime Minister “suggested that a consensus in this regard would be necessary among various political parties in all three states, before an attempt can be made to resolve the matter through mutual consultations, out of the Tribunal,” the PMO stated, following the hour-long meeting.
It seems, the PM was a bit reluctant to call a CMs meeting to resolve the crisis borne out of the severe drought situation. Sources said, he said that “the Congress opposition in the states may start attacking the BJP-led governments in the assemblies of Goa and Maharashtra, if he prevailed upon them to release even 5 TMC of extra water each” to Karnataka.
Sources added that the Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Malliarjun Kharge, who attended the meeting, took exception to this view, bringing out of the tension between the two sides in a PM-CM meeting.
The PM also cited that the manner in which Chief Ministers of the Congress-ruled states had boycotted the meeting of the NITI Ayog and also opposed the Centre’s Land Acquisition bill.
To convince him, the 1971 example was given where then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had similarly intervened outside the Tribunal, to bring relief to drought-hit Tamil Nadu.
The PM, however, readily made a commitment to send a central team to review the drought situation in Karnataka. “A Central Team is being sent to the State to assess the situation at the earliest,’’ the PMO said.
The BJP members, including Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Sadanand Gowda and Ananth Kumar, said, “The PM has assured to look into the issue of calling a meeting.” The delegation also raised problems being faced by sugarcane farmers, due to fall in sugar prices, to which Modi said that these problems were being faced by other sugarcane growing states and the Union government “is taking a number of steps’’ to ease the situation.