The Karnataka Cabinet on Wednesday decided to defer further release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu till September 23, when the state legislature takes a call on the issue.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the Cabinet “deferred” a decision on releasing water to Tamil Nadu till the session meets. The session has been convened in the wake of the Supreme Court directive to Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from September 21 to 27.
Siddaramaiah did not explicitly say that Karnataka would stop water to Tamil Nadu with immediate effect. At a meeting of the leaders of the ruling Congress and the Opposition JD(S), held earlier in the day, it was unanimously decided that Karnataka should stop further release of water to Tamil Nadu given the severe distress situation in the river basin.
Siddaramaiah had convened an all-party meeting to decide on the state’s next step of action following the Supreme Court order. However, it turned out to be a meeting of two parties – the Congress and the JD (S) – with the BJP boycotting the meeting, stating that it had no faith or confidence in the ruling dispensation.
However, BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa later welcomed the Cabinet decision and announced that the party would attend the session. The BJP has been insisting that the government should not release water to Tamil Nadu due to the distress situation.
Many senior Congress MPs, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Oscar Fernandes, Rehman Khan and Veerappa Moily, attended the meeting, along with JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda and his son H D Kumaraswamy.
Siddaramaiah is under pressure from various quarters, including farmers’ associations and politicians, that Karnataka should stop further release of water to the neighbouring state. Ahead of the meeting, Siddaramaiah called on former prime minister Deve Gowda at his residence.
The chief minister spoke to Deve Gowda for more than one hour on the Cauvery issue. Gowda attended the meeting later in the day and stated that Karnataka should take a tough stand and stop releasing water to Tamil Nadu. He, however, told the chief minister that resignation would not solve the issue. Wednesday’s meeting also decided that the resolution passed in the state legislature should be placed before the Supreme Court when it takes up hearing of the Cauvery issue on September 27.
It will be submitted before the Supreme Court that the state is not willfully disobeying its order but is forced to take the decision due to the existing circumstances.