Bengaluru: When Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, the latter was full of praise for his 86-year-old predecessor and the CM’s father, Deve Gowda.
According to Kumaraswamy, the PM described the JD(S) chief as the “walking encyclopaedia” of water disputes and irrigation projects in the country and praised his in-depth knowledge of the 140-year-old Cauvery water row between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
After returning from the national capital, Kumaraswamy said the Centre had constituted the Cauvery Management Authority to oversee distribution of the river water among three riparian states and a Union Territory — Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry — without taking Karnataka's concerns into consideration.
Kumaraswamy's tough talk had given enough indications that the vexed water dispute might lead to a fresh round of legal battle between two major southern states.
But his father and former prime minister Deve Gowda, who was silently watching the developments, summoned Kumaraswamy to his house on Sunday and advised him not to take a confrontational route and adopt a flexible strategy to deal with both the Centre and Tamil Nadu.
The Cauvery row between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is a 140-year-old dispute. (DP Satish/News18)
According to family sources, Gowda told his son not to take on the Supreme Court and go for a compromise in the interest of both the state and his shaky coalition government.
Gowda also asked Kumaraswamy to prepare a booklet on the century-old dispute with all the facts and figures to present a strong case before the Centre and the Supreme Court.
Immediately after the meeting with his father, Kumaraswamy summoned Advocate General Uday Holla and irrigation expert Venkatram to find a way out. He asked them to prepare a booklet immediately.
Kumaraswamy is expected to write a detailed letter to PM Modi and Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari, seeking redressal in a week.
Gowda has asked his son to send copies to all Karnataka and Tamil Nadu MPs.
The Centre constituted the controversial Cauvery Management Authority without Karnataka representatives last week. The state had earlier refused to nominate its members citing inconsistencies in the process.
Speaking to News18, Deve Gowda said he was against the constitution of the authority without Karnataka representatives. He added that the state will send two representatives with a conditional letter to the authority.
The Supreme Court delivered its final verdict in the dispute last February, allocating 11 thousand million cubic feet more Cauvery water to Karnataka and the state accepted the judgment.
But it has questioned the constitution of a management authority to oversee the distribution of water.
The Centre formed the authority after the Supreme Court ordered it to do so.