In a desperate bid to earn political brownie points in Tamil Nadu, DMK chief M Karunanidhi has been issuing a series of statements on the Cauvery water sharing imbroglio. His latest demand is the invocation of Article 356 by the Centre against Karnataka for its refusal to honour the Cauvery River Authority’s order to release water to Tamil Nadu.
But it sounded rather hollow — even MDMK leader Vaiko pointed it out at Neyveli during his party’s protest against the supply of electricity to Karnataka on Friday — because, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa does not see the Centre to be impartial on the issue.
Besides, the DMK is part of the UPA and can work towards invoking Art 356 without issuing statements in the media. As everyone knows, when Karunanidhi was the chief minister, he never took a firm stand against Karnataka whenever it defaulted on the release of water, but he indulged in diversionary tactics, like inaugurating statues of Kannada savant Sarvajna in Chennai and Tamil savant Thiruvallur in Bangalore, saying that his priority was to ease the tension between the states.
That he never addressed the issue legally and claimed Tamil Nadu’s right for Cauvery water, was exposed thoroughly by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa who left no stones unturned deal with the severe water shortage in the state’s rice bowl, by approaching the Supreme Court without waiting for Karnataka to invite her for talks.
So, Karunanidhi, who has been nitpicking on Jayalalithaa’s approach to get water for irrigation in the delta, lost his credibility, particularly in the context of the Chief Minister capturing popular imagination as the valiant fighter for Tamil Nadu’s rights over the Cauvery water.
On her part, Jayalalithaa exposed Karunanidhi’s poor track record in dealing with Karnataka. She said that he gave up the rights of the state in 1970 by declaring in the state Assembly that his government had no objection to the construction of a dam across Hemavathi river, a tributary of Cauvery; it was, in fact, the beginning of the ‘water war’ between the two states. It was only then Karnataka started building dams across other tributaries — like Kabini, Harangi and Swarnavathy — without getting permission from the Central Water Commission and Union Planning Commission, with Karunanidhi remaining a mute spectator, Jayalalithaa pointed out.
Above all, in 1972 Karunanidhi withdrew the case filed by Tamil Nadu before the Supreme Court, under Article 131 of the Constitution, without informing the two legislative Houses of Tamil Nadu, though the case was filed on the basis of resolutions passed in the two Houses, she reminded, thus tearing off the DMK chief’s mask.
She also made it clear that Karnataka had to release water only because of her initiative in convening the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) meeting, which Kurunanidhi never bothered to do during his tenure, suggesting that the present crisis was his making.
But for a feeble defence that it was he who was instrumental in the setting up of the CRA, Karunanidhi had no answers to any of the other questions raised by Jayalalithaa who accused him of betraying Tamil Nadu.