Karnataka Bandh Over Mahadayi River Dispute, BJP Alleges Political Conspiracy

Vatala Paksha President Vatal Nagaraj chairs a meeting of pro Kannada organisation regarding the Kalasa Banduri protest in Hubballi on Sunday. DH

The saffron party suspects the bandh is a Congress ploy to disrupt the BJP rally.

A state-wide shutdown in Karnataka came into effect on Thursday with farmers and pro-Kannada groups calling for a 12-hour "bandh" from 6 AM to 6 PM over the Mahadayi river water sharing dispute.

The districts are Belagavi, Bhagalkote, Dharwad and Gadag in the northwest.

Schools and offices were shut.

In the capital city, state-run buses remained off the road, stranding people from outside the city at the main bus terminal.

Attempts by Karnataka to amicably solve the issue pending before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal through discussion has failed to bear fruit. While the river originates from Karnataka, a major part of it flows in Goa.

Goa objected contending that its population is dependent on river's natural path.

The bandh affected regular life.

The few three-wheelers plying in Bengaluru fleeced passengers. However, hospitals and clinics were functioning.

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Some activists from the Kannada Rakshana Vedike tried to stop trains from operating at the City Railway station in the morning, but they were quickly dispersed by the police. They also burnt central government figures effigies near the Town Hall. Protests were confined to demonstrations and burning of effigies while state transport corporations suspended bus services in many places.

Karnataka has been asking Goa since 2001 to release 7.6 thousand million cubic feet of the river water to meet the drinking needs of its people in the drought-prone districts and irrigating the farmlands.

Incidentally, the ruling Congress too has been shying away from negotiations as the party has been backing Goa since May 2007.

What was the opposition BJP's reaction?

The "Congress free" India was imminent with the corrupt Congress government in Karnataka "standing on its last legs" and a BJP government taking up the reigns was forthcoming, BJP President Amit Shah said.

"Siddaramaiah-led Congress also wants to disrupt Modi's rally to be held on February 4", he said. Institutes in Ramnagara district will also remain closed during the day.

Is the bandh a political ploy before state polls?

Though differences have emerged among outfits over the bandh call, Vatal Nagaraj, who heads "Kannada Okoota", an umbrella organisation of Kannada bodies, said there would be a state-wide dawn to dusk bandh on January 25, demanding the Prime Minister's intervention.


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