Bengaluru: If the Kannada organisations have their way, BJP chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to face protests and bandh when they arrive in poll-bound Karnataka on January 25 and February 4 respectively.
Shah is taking 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. PM Modi will be in Bengaluru on February 4 to address a rally of party workers.
On both the days Kannada organisations have called for a bandh. According to these outfits, there will be a Karnataka bandh on January 25 and Bengaluru bandh on February 4. They claim that the bandhs have been called to protest against the Centre’s disinterest in resolving the Mahadayi river water dispute with the neighbouring state Goa. Several Kannada organisations have together under the leadership of veteran activist and former MLA Vatal Nagaraj to protest during the visit of Shah and Modi.
Speaking to News18, 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”.
However, the proposed bandh has already led to many controversies. Some Kannada organisations are keeping quiet and some are questioning the rationale behind it. The most powerful and the largest Kannada organisation, the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV), led by its firebrand leader T A Narayana Gowda, is yet to spell out if it is joining the bandh or not. All previous bandhs without the KRV backing have failed miserably in the past and unless KRV joins the protest, it is unlikely to affect the public life and the BJP leaders.
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”.
The BJP is planning to mobilise over three lakh people for both Mysore and Bengaluru meetings. In an interview to News18 on Saturday Yeddyurappa had blamed the Congress for the Mahadayi mess.
A BJP supporter said, “This is perhaps for the first time in the history of bandhs — in Karnataka or India — that a bandh has been called on a Sunday! (February 4). This clearly unmasks the political intent behind the bandh call. What more proof is needed to show the sponsored nature of it."