Cong backs bandh, BJP says it is CM's ploy to spoil Modi, Shah rallies

Ashoka, Shettar warn of K'taka bandh during Rahul's state visit

Cong backs bandh, BJP says it is CM's ploy to spoil Modi, Shah rallies

The call given by Kannada organisations for a Karnataka bandh on January 25 and Bengaluru bandh on February 4 for early resolution of the Mahadayi row has triggered a bitter political battle between the ruling Congress and the principal Opposition BJP.

While the Congress on Monday called upon people to support the bandh call, the BJP charged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of hatching a conspiracy to scuttle the party's pre-election rallies on January 25 and February 4 to be addressed by BJP national president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi respectively by "sponsoring" bandh calls on the two days.

The Congress said it supported the call for bandh demanding   Modi's intervention to resolve the Mahadayi river water sharing dispute.

"Everybody must support the bandh call given by farmer groups and pro-Kannada organisations seeking Modi's intervention," Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee   working president Dinesh Gundu Rao told reporters in Bengaluru.

Senior BJP leader R Ashoka said, "We never knew that Siddaramaiah can stoop to such low level" and added that the party will go ahead with the conventions and there was no question of postponing them.

Ashoka said the BJP could give the Congress a taste of its own medicine and give a state-wide bandh call when its chief Rahul Gandhi tours the state from February 10.

Rao rubbished the BJP's charge that Siddaramaiah was conspiring to scuttle the saffron party's pre-election rallies on January 25 and February 4 to be addressed by Shah and Modi respectively.

"The chief minister said the bandh should be advanced to January 25 because January 26 is Republic Day. It's not that we knew Shah and Modi were coming. We have to put up a united fight in the Mahadayi issue. It is true that the Centre has not stood by the people of Karnataka." the Congress leader said.

Speaking to reporters in Mysuru, BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa said, "the BJP fully supports the protests over the issue of sharing of Mahadayi water. But, bandh is not necessary in the Mysuru region. Bandh should be called only in the affected areas. However, the scheduled programmes of the BJP will not be stopped at any cost."

In Hubballi, Leader of the Opposition in Legislative Assembly Jagadish Shettar said, "Siddaramaiah is afraid of Modi's visit to the state, and he is the brain behind the bandh call with an ill-intention to disturb the BJP's Parivarthana Yatra rally in Bengaluru."

Shettar said Rahul should make his stand clear on the Mahadayi issue before coming to the state, as the Congress itself is responsible for taking the dispute to the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal. Otherwise, the BJP will stage protest and give a call for bandh when Rahul visits the state, he added.

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