Karnataka polls: Quiet flows the anger over Cauvery award,separating king,kingmakerhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/latest-news/karnataka-polls-quiet-flows-the-anger-over-cauvery-award-separating-king-kingmaker/

Karnataka polls: Quiet flows the anger over Cauvery award,separating king,kingmaker

What people believe is right answer could decide whether K'taka will get single-party govt or coalition.

Was it the DMK that was behind the UPA government’s reluctance to side with Karnataka’s farmers in the Cauvery water dispute? Or was it the BJP state government that failed to swing it their way?

What people believe is the right answer could decide,to a certain extent,whether Karnataka will get a single-party government or a coalition.

In the best-case scenario,the Janata Dal (S) leadership is looking to win around 50 seats in the 224-member assembly. The party could end up as the kingmaker if the anti-BJP undercurrents do not turn into a pro-Congress wave by polling day on May 5.

With its influence largely confined to the Vokkaliga-dominated old Mysore region,the JD(S) is expecting a rich haul from Mysore,Mandya,Chamarajnagar and Hassan districts for which the Cauvery river is the lifeline.


Although not articulated so far,the Cauvery water-sharing issue may also find some resonance in many of Bangalore’s 28 seats which face a severe drinking water shortage. Sensing the disquiet,the JD(S) leader and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda had gone on a padayatra in the city some time back opposing the notification of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award.

Farmers who had blocked the Bangalore-Mysore highway following the Supreme Court’s order to release water to Tamil Nadu last December have gone quiet as the polling day nears. There are no protests,demonstrations or demands from politicians who are descending on them in droves.

But scratch the surface and the anger comes out.

Outside the ruins of what was once the Tiger of Mysore Tipu Sultan’s palace in Srirangapatna in Mandya district,Rahman Sharief,an agarbatti-seller,was holding sway over awe-struck visitors Wednesday afternoon. When Tipu was taking his last breath in 1799,the lord of the nearby Ranganathaswamy temple told him that if Tipu did not come to him,the lord would not get up.

A badly injured Tipu could not and since then Lord Ranganatha has been in a reclining position. Such was Tipu’s sway that even the Cauvery had changed its course to avoid his palace. “Cauvery is dry now,” Rahman ended his tale with a wry smile. He himself was a farmer but had no crops to tend to for want of water.

“All political parties are the same. Nobody is talking about it. Between the Centre and the state,it’s the former,which is more responsible,probably because the Congress has more seats in Tamil Nadu,” said Manjuraj from Gejjalagere village,the hotbed of the Cauvery protests.

Gejjalagere falls under Maddur,former chief minister S M Krishna’s hometown. Manjuraj has eight acres of land,which he claims was yielding 50 tonnes of sugarcane per acre,besides the other major crop of paddy,until two years back. “You can come and check. My fields are lying fallow,” he said. Asked about Tamil Nadu farmers,his friend G H Ramesh snapped: “We don’t have water for our fields. Where is the water to give them?”

Further north on the Mysore-Bangalore road,in former CM H D Kumaraswamy’s Ramanagara constituency,people showed little interest in the election as they talked fondly about Gabbar and Basanti from the 1970s blockbuster Sholay which was shot in the area.

In the nearby Ramgiri colony,people complained about how women had to go far to fetch water.

Asked whether Kumaraswamy had ever visited them,Muniappa said,“Never. Some people had come to see the spot for Sholay II but they never returned.” With little on offer at present,the Bollywood blockbuster seemed their only high point in life.

Addressing a rally in Mandya Wednesday,Rahul Gandhi had said: “Please explain to me why sugarcane farmers cannot be given water and electricity.” They had no answers.

Deve Gowda has been giving them the answers though: “The final award was given by a broken tribunal. It was a major injustice to Karnataka. A major objective of mine is to improve the tribunal’s findings.” Meanwhile,his JD(S) workers were busy telling people about the Congress-DMK alliance.

In 2008,the Congress had won eight out of 11 seats in Mysore and swept all 4 in Chamarajnagar while getting two of seven in Mandya. In 2013,the ruling party in the Centre is locked in a bitter electoral fight with the JD(S) in the Old Mysore region.


The deafening silence of the electorate on the Cauvery issue may turn out to be beguiling on May 8 when the results are declared.