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Opinion | Cauvery Verdict a Shot in the Arm for Siddaramaiah Ahead of Karnataka Assembly Polls

Even though any judgment in interstate water dispute won’t be fully satisfactory for all, Karnataka has more than one reason to smile after the Supreme Court verdict in the cauvery issue. The Congress can certainly use it in the poll campaign in the Cauvery belt districts.

D P Satish | CNN-News18dp_satish

Updated:February 16, 2018, 5:12 PM IST
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Opinion | Cauvery Verdict a Shot in the Arm for Siddaramaiah Ahead of Karnataka Assembly Polls
File photo of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.(PTI Photo)
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Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who normally won’t sit before a TV was glued to it after 10am on Friday. His 13th budget copy was kept on the table before him. This was his government’s last Budget presentation ahead of the Assembly elections due in the next two months. The moment TV screens flashed a breaking news with the Supreme Court giving more Cauvery water to Karnataka, a smiling Siddaramaiah left for the Assembly hall to present the Budget. As finance minister, he had presented 8 budgets before becoming the CM.

The Congress was worried ahead of the final verdict in the 138-year-old legal dispute. The opposition BJP had continuously attacked the government over its team of lawyers defending the state in the Supreme Court. They had even demanded that eminent jurist Fali S Nariman, who had led Karnataka before both the Cauvery Tribunal and the SC for over 20 years, should be replaced with some other advocate. But Siddaramaiah had stood his ground refusing to make any changes. Finally it has resulted in good results for the state.

Even though any judgment in interstate water dispute won’t be fully satisfactory for all, Karnataka has more than one reason to smile. The Congress can certainly use it in the poll campaign in the Cauvery belt districts.

The SC upholding state capital Bengaluru’s rights over the Cauvery water has come as a huge relief for the government. The IT city with its 11 million population depends mostly on Cauvery for its drinking water requirements. The SC has allocated 14.7 TMC ft of water to Bengaluru honouring international conventions on drinking water. According to the masterplan for 2030, the city is expected to have 21 million people and the water requirement will be more. Tamil Nadu had opposed water for Bengaluru arguing that the state capital is not a part of Cauvery area.

The SC has not said anything about constituting the contentious Cauvery Water Management Board to oversee distribution of water among four riparian states – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. Karnataka had always opposed it and Siddaramaiah can claim that it is also a victory for the state.

Politically, the judgment does not seem to be good for the main opposition BJP and the third player JDS, which is a dominant party in the Cauvery region. Since Karnataka has managed to get 14.75 TMC ft of extra water, they can’t go after the Congress.

JDS supremo and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda has also played a constructive role during the long Cauvery battle. Gowda, who is an authority on irrigation, has advised both the government and the lawyers on many occasions. The Congress can’t take away all the credit and will have to grudgingly share the credit with Gowda. But his party is not in a position to take any short term political advantage of it.

The BJP is cautious in its response. But keeping the election in mind some of its leaders are making some noises. The leader of the opposition in the Assembly, Jagadish Shettar, said “I am happy with it. We will react after speaking to Karnataka lawyers”. Another top leader of the party and former law minister S Sureshkumar has also expressed satisfaction over the judgment.

The Congress had put the BJP on the mat over Mahadayi river water issue with Goa. They attacked the BJP for failing to convince its own party government in Goa to release water to Karnataka. The BJP’s CM face B S Yeddyurappa had to face a huge embarrassment after his attempts to strike a deal with the Parrikar government backfired.

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| Edited by: Mayur Borah
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