Bengaluru, Jan 24 2018 (CNN-News18): Karnataka is set to go on a state-wide bandh on Thursday, as various pro-Kannada organisations demand the Centre’s intervention to solve the contentious Mahadayi river water-sharing dispute.
A 12-hour bandh, from 6 am to 6 pm, has been called by veteran activist and former MLA Vatal Nagaraj-led ’Kannada Okkuta’ and other fringe outfits. The bandh is said to also be supported by few taxi and auto-drivers’ union.
The demand is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervene and bring a compromise between Goa and Maharashtra, so that Karnataka can get a share in the water.
Private schools and government offices are expected to remain closed in view of the bandh. On Tuesday, the Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in the state said that member-schools would remain closed on the day of the bandh.
However, both the state-run Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) say their operations are unaffected – however, if there are untoward incidents like stone-pelting, they may have to review this.
Meanwhile, farmers’ group, which have primarily been at the forefront of the agitation over the last few years, are not supporting the bandh call as they say the decision was taken without consulting them.
The pro-Kannada outfits that have called the bandh are also planning a state-wide shutdown on February 4 as well.
The dates have been selected as BJP president Amit Shah is set to take part in a mega public meeting in Mysore to conclude BJP’s chief ministerial face B S Yeddyurappa’s three months-long state tour “Parivarthana Yathre” on January 25. While PM Modi will be in Bengaluru on February 4 to address a rally of party workers.
Speaking to media, Vatal Nagaraj said that there will be a total bandh on both the days and thousands of activists will greet both Shah and Modi with the black flags. He said, “PM Modi is playing politics. The BJP is playing with the sentiments of Kannadigas. Their Goa minister called us names, but the BJP high command maintained a silence over it. Mumbai – Karnataka people don’t have even drinking water. But the PM is not telling Goa CM Parrikar to release water to Karnataka. If they want our vote, they must work for us. Kannadigas’ vote is not BJP’s inheritance”.
The state BJP, which is facing a lot of flak for messing up with Mahadayi issue, has blamed the Congress for the bandh. Yeddyurappa has described it as a ruling Congress sponsored bandh. Speaking to News18, he said “The Congress is jittery. It is frustrated. It knows both Shah and Modi will attract a huge crowd. Just to sabotage our programme, Siddaramaiah is sponsoring this bandh.” However, he added that both the events will be held as per schedule and no bandh can prevent BJP workers and supporters from attending the public meetings.
Attacking Yeddyurappa for his “Congress sponsored bandh” comment, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that the BJP leader had lost the capacity to think clearly. Speaking to News18, he said, “Kannada organisations used to hold protests and call for bandhs even during Yeddyurappa’s regime. We never blamed him for that. These organisations are independent ones. They don’t listen to the Congress, just like they don’t listen to the BJP. Yeddyurappa is worried that Shah and Modi’s public meetings would be a flop show. Because the people are disillusioned with Modi. Shah’s public meeting on November 2 in Bengaluru was a flop. To save their face, BJP leaders are now blaming the Congress”.