BANGALORE: Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda is worried his boat may be rocked. Facing disapproval from the central leadership after the BJP’s electoral humiliation in his former parliamentary constituency of Udupi-Chikmagalur, and a fickle Yeddyurappa whose chief ministerial ambitions haven’t faded, the Cauvery water issue has come as a convenient political lifeboat. In order to turn the tide, Gowda is playing hero by rejecting Tamil Nadu’s demand for the release of Cauvery waters, affirming the state government will not sacrifice the interests of farmers.
According to Gowda, the tribunal has laid down a formula for water sharing according to the seasons, including the distress period. “Tamil Nadu has raised the Cauvery issue for political reasons,” says Gowda.
His allegations have not deterred Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Saying that Karnataka is not honouring either the interim award or the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, she told the Assembly on Friday that Tamil Nadu would not allow Karnataka to build a new dam across the Cauvery at Mekedhatu “under any circumstance”. Tamil Nadu has filed an interim application in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to restrain Karnataka from drawing water for summer crops. “Tamil Nadu’s prayer before the Supreme Court is highly illegal and provocative,” Gowda said last week.
He also cautioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against getting influenced by Tamil Nadu’s “political clout”. Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai claims Karnataka had released more than Tamil Nadu’s share since the Cauvery tribunal’s final verdict was passed in 2007.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has written to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, seeking immediate release of water for Chennai. Thanking him for the prompt release of water from the Krishna last year, she urged Reddy to repeat the gesture this year too. But Gowda is no mood to relent.
Sources in Bangalore say the chief minister is on shaky ground. He feels he is losing the central BJP leadership’s support. The pro-Gowda minister Balachandra Jarkiholi made a U Turn last week after declaring the BJP government will be brought down if Gowda is removed and his predecessor BS Yeddyurappa is brought in—widely considered a His Master’s Voice statement. Jarkiholi had recently met senior BJP leaders, including party president Nitin Gadkari, L K Advani, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and former party chief Rajnath Singh.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Education Minister SA Ramdas said the BJP high command is likely to resolve the leadership crisis before April 15. Sadananda Gowda, Yeddyurappa and state party boss KS Eshwarappa will tour the state to apologies to the people for the mess and enthuse party men to gear up for the 2014 general elections. Meanwhile, Gowda is bolstering his prayers by opening up government coffers to temples and religious institutions. An additional Rs 37.32 crore has been granted for building temples and religious institutions to supplement Rs 6177.7 crore already granted. “It is ridiculous that the state government is giving money to temples when people are battling for drinking water,” Congress leader Siddaramaiah said. Gowda is already in hot water.