No 'bandh' for bandhs as politicos slug it out on Mahadayi issue

At least two more bandhs could be in the pipeline in February over the Mahadayi river water sharing dispute, an agitation that has donned political colours of the two national parties - the Congress and the BJP.

The bandh on Thursday resulted in a near-total shutdown in many parts of the state, which the BJP charged was sponsored by the Congress to make its chief Amit Shah's visit to Mysuru unsuccessful. Pro-Kannada groups observed the bandh to pressure Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and resolve the inter-state water dispute.

Bengaluru may have to brace for another bandh -- Bengaluru bandh -- on February 4, which the saffron party claims that it is timed for Modi's visit as part of the valedictory of the BJP's Nava Karnataka Nirmana Parivartan Yatra.

In what appears to be a retaliation, BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa has warned that his party would call for a bandh in every district when the Congress president Rahul Gandhi is slated to visit next month if he failed to clarify his stand on the Mahadayi issue. On February 10, Rahul is visit ing Hosapete in Ballari district, followed tentatively by Raichur and Kalaburagi. Yeddyurappa has specifically demanded Rahul to clarify on the Goa Congress president's statement opposing sharing of Mahadayi water with Karnataka.

"It is not the Congress that has called for a bandh on February 4, or the one on Thursday. Let the BJP call for a bandh if they want," Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee working president Dinesh Gundu Rao said even as he said it is necessary to support bandh in the interest of the state.

Last month, Water Resources Minister M B Patil joined scores of farmers who protested outside the BJP headquarters in Malleswaram in Bengaluru, which was seen as the Congress' move extending support to the protest. This was followed by the BJP leaders staging a protest outside the Congress headquarters.

Farmer leader Veeresh C Sobaradmath, who is leading the Mahadayi agitation, rued that all parties were using the issue for just muckraking. "Whether or not farmers will protest when Modi is here on February 4 depends on the outcome of an all-party meeting that will be held on January 27," he said.

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