Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cauvery water dispute: Small win for Tamil Nadu leaves Karnataka in turmoil

Where is Mandyada Gandu (Mandya's man)?" a youth asks sarcastically. His reference is to Mandya MLA, Ambareesh, also a popular actor in the Kannada film industry. Ambareesh who was Karnataka Housing minister in the Siddaramaiah government till last year, had starred in Kannada film 'Mandyada Gandu' in 1994 and the popular title song is a number still hummed by every Mandya resident. The youth says the fact that Ambareesh has not made an appearance, rankles.

Perhaps that is why in the cover of darkness before day break on Wednesday morning, a former Congress MP drove from Bengaluru to Mandya. The leader was walking on eggshells, trying to justify the Siddaramaiah government's decision to abide by the Supreme court order while agreeing with the farmers' angst.

"I told the farmers we will file a review petition in the court. It is a difficult situation and I saw that our farmers are suffering. But we have to abide by the Supreme court order. As a state, we cannot defy it, can we," the former MP reasoned. The politician did not want to be identified because on the way back to Bengaluru, burning tree logs and tyres that dotted the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway gave the ex-MP a good enough indication of the simmering anger on the ground. The farmers have moved from the fields to the road and the political establishment is finding the journey difficult.

Satish, a farmer is one of the many angry men you find in Mandya, raising the banner of revolt. "There is no water for us or my cattle. How will I provide fodder for my cattle," he asks. He threatens to leave his cattle outside the Mandya district collector's office. "I will take them back when we get water," he says.

The political Opposition watches from Bengaluru as the farmers take over their space in the Cauvery belt. Accusing Siddaramaiah of not protecting Kannadiga interests, the farmers say he has failed them for the second time in two years. Kurubur Shanthakumar, the president of the Karnataka Sugarcane Farmers Association points out that Siddaramaiah fiddled while 1560 farmers killed themselves in 2015-16.

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