Isolation from the affairs of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Karnataka unit does not preclude B S Yeddyurappa from espousing political causes.
On Friday, former chief minister Yeddyurappa and his loyal supporters protested in Bangalore against the Cauvery Regulatory Authority’s (CRA) order to the Karnataka government to release water to Tamil Nadu. Yeddyurappa demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who heads the CRA, withdraw the decision to release 9,000 cusecs of water daily, with immediate effect.
Although Yeddyurappa did not use the BJP’s symbol during his protest, he drew a good audience. However, none of the Cabinet ministers including his loyalists, joined the dharna.
Legislators B P Harish, Hemachandra Sagar, S R Vishwanath, M Srinivas; MLCs M D Lakshminarayana and Mumtaz Ali Khan; MPs P C Mohan, B Y Raghavendra and former MP Dhananjay Kumar (all BJP leaders) came to support Yeddyurappa.
Yeddyurappa had initially planned to protest in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue near Anand Rao Circle for a few hours, but as the day progressed he decided to continue into the night by staying put at the venue. He said he would end the protest at 6 pm on Saturday to coincide with the conclusion of the 12-hour bandh the City is expected to face.
Yeddyurappa has been sore over being sidelined in the party over several issues including sharing the Cauvery river’s water with Tamil Nadu. He cut short his tour to North Karnataka districts to be in Bangalore as an expression of his solidarity with people protesting the release of Cauvery water.
Yeddyurappa is said to be taking up the Cauvery issue because he wants to reach out to farmers in Karnataka’s old Mysore region, where he is not as popular as he is in Shimoga and other places. These farmers form a huge voting populace and have traditionally backed H D Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (S).
There was speculation that Yeddyurappa would undertake a 130-km padayatra (journey by foot) to the Krishnarajasagar (KRS) Dam. But he dropped the idea on the advice of farmers’ leader G Made Gowda. “I got a call from Made Gowda that I can visit Mandya and support him in his agitation. I will go to Mandya on Sunday,” Yeddyurappa told Deccan Herald.
Yeddyurappa said he would consult Made Gowda before going to Mandya, considering that Congress leader Siddaramaiah was hounded out by agitating farmers on Thursday. The Mandya farmers are said to be upset with the political class for not doing enough on the Cauvery issue.
Earlier in the day, Yeddyurappa lashed out at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the decision to release water to Tamil Nadu without assessing the ground realities in the Cauvery basin.