There are protests galore in Karnataka over the Cauvery issue and there appears to be no solution in sight with farmers only intensifying their protest with each passing day. The Cauvery Waters issue has always been political in Karnataka and those who have defied Tamil Nadu’s demands have always made gains politically.
A question that many would ask is why the BJP in Karnataka did not capitalise on the issue and defy the release of water. While any such move by Karnataka would have earned the wrath of the Supreme Court, it would have still have been beneficial for any party politically.
The fact is that the Karnataka BJP which rules Karnataka had first planned on defying the order of the Cauvery River Waters Authority which ordered the release of 9000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu. Even after the Supreme Court rap, many leaders in the state had said that they should stand by the demands of the farmers and defy the order even at the risk of losing power.
This was a well thought out move by the state leaders and by doing so they would have gained politically especially in the Mandya and Mysore belts which have predominantly been weaker areas for the BJP. This is the belt which always protests against the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu as they appear to be the most affected by this.
While the state BJP had planned on defying the order and standing by the farmers of this belt, it was the central leadership which finally put its foot down and stated that the order has to be followed. While the BJP leaders from the state argued that it would put them in bad light if they followed this order, the central leadership was adamant that there shall be no disobeying the order. Once again the Central leadership reiterated the point that the rule of law should be upheld. They were thinking of the issue on a national front and did not want to be accused of not upholding the rule of law. While defying the order may have helped the BJP make inroads in the Mandya and Mysore belts especially with the elections round the corner, the central leadership was firm and pointed out that the party would be seen in very bad light nationally. They also quoted the example of Kalyan Singh who had gone against his word when he had assured to uphold the provisions of the Constitution. The Central leadership argued that they would be left defenceless in Parliament against the Congress who would pick on them for disobeying the orders and throwing caution to the rule of law. In addition to this the BJP in New Delhi also did not want to rub J Jayalalithaa the wrong way as they see her as a possible ally.
Jagadish Shettar and his men reluctantly agreed to the orders of their leaders and decided to go ahead and release water to Tamil Nadu. Many state that they could face what S M Krishna faced when he was encountered with the same problem while he was the Chief Minister of Karnataka. He too had initially tried defying the order citing law and order problems. The Supreme Court however tore into him and told to either rule or quit. Krishna went ahead and released water which led to major rioting. The situation was so bad for him that he could not even contest from his home constituency of Maddur which is close to Mandya. The Congress eventually lost that election under Krishna. They were forced to form a government with the Janata Dal (S) with Dharam Singh as the Chief Minister, which only lasted two years.
However the rest of the parties especially the Janata Dal (S) in Karnataka is trying to make gains. The JD(S) has played this card very smartly. While the big man Deve Gowda has said that the rule of law should be upheld, the rest of his party leaders have joined the protest. All of them have tendered their yet to be accepted resignations in support of the Cauvery issue. The JD(S) hopes to make up for lost ground in the areas of Mysore and rural Bangalore through this issue.