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Friday, January 28, 2022

Amid Covid surge, Karnataka Congress suspends Mekedatu march

Congress leaders announced they were halting the Mekedatu march for now, but would resume once the third wave of Covid-19 eases.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: January 14, 2022 3:12:07 am
The Karnataka Congress has launched a 10-day march over the Mekedatu reservoir issue. (Express File Photo: Jithendra M)

Amid increasing Covid-19 cases and mounting pressure from several quarters, the Karnataka Congress Thursday announced a temporary halt to it Mekedatu march, or ‘walk for water’.

Thursday was the fifth day of the march, being held to demand the building of a reservoir on the river Cauvery in Mekedatu in south Karnataka.

On Wednesday, the state government had prohibited the movement of vehicles and people for the march following a High Court rap.

The day after, Congress leaders held a press meet in Ramanagaram, 50 km from Bengaluru, and announced they were halting the march for now, but would resume once the third wave eases.

Former state CM Siddaramaiah in the press meet said, “We are concerned about the health of the people in Karnataka, it is our responsibility to ensure that Covid doesn’t spread because of our padayatra. Despite taking all the necessary measures, we had concerns. We don’t want people to feel that we are responsible for worsening the Covid situation.”

The statement came on the day Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha and veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who inaugurated the march on Sunday, tested positive for Covid.

Former chief minister and BJP leader SM Krishna and Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had written to Congress state chief DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah to call off the march. Congress sources said the party high command had also insisted on calling off the march, as there was criticism over holding such a huge protest during the Covid crisis.

BJP leaders continued to attack the Congress after the march was called off. State minister K Sudhakar said, “Several thousands of innocent people participated in the padayatra, we are yet to see how it has spread Covid. The government did not stop the padayatra by brute force but we tried to convince the Congress this was not an appropriate time. The irresponsible statements made by KPCC president DK Shivakumar are very unbecoming and have hurt the morale of the state’s Covid warriors, from IAS officers to a frontline workers.”

Shivakumar, however, hit back, saying BJP leaders had also been participating in festivals and public gatherings. “Previously, we were fighting with another state (Tamil Nadu) for Cauvery’s water, but now we have to fight against two political parties of our own state (BJP and JDS),” he added.

The state police have registered several FIRs against Shivakumar and other Congress leaders for violating Covid-19 protocols during the yatra.

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