The recent Supreme Court order in favour of Tamil Nadu on the century-old dispute over River Cauvery with Karnataka has come as a shot in the arm of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, politically.
By ensuring the convening of the Cauvery River Water Authority meeting after long nine years and then moving the Supreme Court, which impelled Karnataka to release water for irrigation in the delta region, Jayalalithaa once again proved her mettle.
Unlike her predecessor, M Karunanidhi, who soft peddled the issue, Jayalalithaa has been consistent and firm right from her first tenure as Chief Minister when she sat on an indefinite fast in 1993, demanding a monitoring and implementing committee on the interim order given by the Cauvery tribunal. Later, in 2007, she sat on a fast demanding that the Centre notify the tribunal’s final order. But what she did right this time was to go through the legal route to make the recalcitrant neighbour state come around, which was criticised by Karunanidhi, who, while in power, never took a tough stand, prompting the people to see a motive behind it. When he said that aggravating the situation following protests against release of water to Tamil Nadu would jeoparadise the life of Tamils in Karnataka, people openly said that he was more concerned about his daughter, Selvi, who lives in Bangalore, and the family’s business interests there.
In the case of Jayalalithaa, people feel that she has espoused the cause of Cauvery delta farmers strongly. For, even when she was out of power, she raised her voice and at one point even said that the interests of Tamil Nadu was not being protected because neither of the national political parties have any stakes in the state.