BENGALURU: Allowing Karnataka to draw 13.42 tmcft of water from Mahadayi river to Malaprabha basin, of which 5.5 tmc ft is to meet the drinking water needs of towns in northern Karnataka, has come as a consolation award for the people here and political parties. However, the award could prove insubstantial to put an end to the dispute, as political parties try to dissect it for electoral gains, with Lok Sabha polls around the corner.
While people celebrated, especially for the allocation for drinking water, and even decided to suspend their agitation, parties are busy figuring out the political spin-offs from the Tribunal’s award. While the BJP is trying to show this as a win under the Narendra Modi government, Congress and JD(S) are trying to play up the reluctance on part of the central government to mediate an out-of-court settlement. Northern Karnataka is a BJP stronghold.
BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa wasted no time in welcoming the award. “I am happy with the final verdict. It has brought cheers on faces of farmers and protesters. The happy thing is that we can go to Supreme Court seeking a larger share. The government should act to utilise the allotted water immediately,” he said. Reactions from the JD(S) - Congress camp range from non-committal to furious.
The initial response of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy was guarded. Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara soon took an aggressive political stance and Water Resources minister D K Shivakumar joined in, terming Tuesday as a “dark day” for Karnataka and conveyed his intention to file a review petition. “The timing of the award could benefit BJP ahead of Lok Sabha election. It would have been a disaster for the party if the Tribunal had rejected Karnataka’s plea,” said political analyst Harish Ramaswamy. Congress and JD(S) are compelled to keep the agitation alive, to push BJP on the defensive, he added. The award has left many questions unanswered leaving the political parties free to interpret it according to their convenience.