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Activists observe black day, court arrest but PM mum on Mahadayi

DH News Service, Bengaluru, Feb 4 2018, 23:58 IST
Mahadayi protestors led by the Kana Samanyara Paksha have a sitting protest ahead of PM Modi's speech in Bengaluru.

Mahadayi protestors led by the Kana Samanyara Paksha have a sitting protest ahead of PM Modi's speech in Bengaluru.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday chose not to speak anything on the contentious Mahadayi river water sharing issue, even as pro-Kannada organisations staged protests in the city seeking his intervention in resolving the issue.

Modi, during his 52-minutes speech at the Nava Karnataka Nirmana Parivarthana rally, spoke at length on how the state would benefit if the same parties are in power at both the Centre and the State. "If the government in Delhi and the state join hands, the farmers will get water to their fields and they can reap gold," he stated.

But he did not mention about the protest being staged by pro-Kannada organisations and the farmers in north Karnataka, demanding Mahadayi water for irrigation and drinking water purpose.

Earlier in the day, activists protesting for the Mahadayi water held two parallel protests at Freedom Park and courted arrest by taking out a march to Palace Ground, where Modi addressed a BJP rally in the evening.

Led by writer Chandrashekar Patil (Champa), farmers and activists of Jana Samanyara Paksha demanded prime minister's intervention to seek an early solution to the dispute.

Champa said it was surprising that Modi, who speaks on minor issues in his Mann Ki Baat address, chooses to ignore an issue that has put lakhs of people in dire straits.

"The problem is huge and the solution is a small one but no party is willing to take an initiative. We hope that the prime minister will have something to say about this at his rally today," he said. Later, they took out a mock funeral procession to protest against Modi's silence.

Next to the Freedom Park, pro-Kannada organisations led by Vatal Nagaraj blocked the Kalidasa Marg and sat on dharna. "We have 2,000 pro-Kannada organisations who have come together to observe this day as black day. Respecting the directions from the court, we have not called a bandh. But we won't sit quietly if Modi fails to address the issue," he said.

The tone of the protest, however, was clearly anti-BJP as was clear from the slogans against Modi. "Hello Mr Narendra Modi, what did you say and what have you done," the protesters chanted.

State Congress president G Parameshwara accused Modi of letting down the farmers on the issue. "Modi did not mention a word about Mahadayi issue during his one-hour speech. How can Modi claim himself to be pro-farmers?" he asked.

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