The SC’s intervention and its verdict increasing Karnataka’s share of Cauvery water by 14tmcft is less of anybody’s political thump card and more about the glaring reality of depleting and deteriorating waterbodies across Karnataka and Bengaluru in particular. If rampant swallowing of lake bodies and unrestrained sanctions for ill-conceived constructions have reduced the green covers of cities like Bengaluru, the under developed towns of Northern Karnataka have been exploited by mining sharks making the place barren with little or no rains forcing large populations to crowd towards few developed cities.
Subsequent governments have been guilty of this gross neglect of natural resources and mismanagement of river sharing issues. The decades’ old Cauvery dispute was one such political mismanagement where no alternative sources were strengthened nor was the matter amicably settled but instead the water problem was only sulked and sustained aggravating the situation by placing politics above people’s welfare.
The recent SC ruling that increased Karnataka’s Cauvery water share to 14.75tmcft has been a result after a prolonged and fighting wait for many decades now hence no one political party can take credit nor pass the buck.
But then it is election time now and the monsoon of the SC verdict will be rained to irrigate the barren fields of the farmer’s emotions. The farmer suicides in Karnataka will be blamed on drought once again as if the farmer’s suicides in Maharashtra during Congress era were due to common cold. It is another mystery that farmers’ keep committing suicides inspite of the various loan waivers given to them. Whether or not the many subsidies reach them and if it has indeed reached them then why are farmers’ committing suicides is like the hen and egg story but farmer appeasement has been the golden goose for politics.
The Siddaramaiah government that has failed miserably in saving its burning and frothing lakes would have left no stone unturned in making claims of victory over this Cauvery verdict as its own Neeru Bhagya but for its own misdoings!
Blame it on the crow or blame it on ill-timed rowdy fetishes of their rogue MLA kids’, the Congress is forced to keep a low profile on the Cauvery matter as it is busy firefighting desperately to brush aside the dirt on its shoulders. Even if it does dare to consume all credit the JDS will ensure that the Congress will remain muted on this matter lest Kumaraswamy will shed truckloads of tears to compensate for any shortage of Cauvery waters in Mandya, Bengaluru and Ramnagara. Yes, the JDS has woken up because it is a now or never situation for them.
With Kumaraswamy making himself overtly visible and heard from rooftops of all his channels it looks like the Congress may be left with parched throats leaving Karnataka will hung polls where no single party is going to get majority. Amidst the brazenness of the Congress Vokkaligas and the JDS Vokkaligas the BJP’s Lingayat and Dalit voices seem like protesting pussycats much like the salaried middle class with not much clout to flex. Yet their consistent single runs cannot be discounted and you never know the BJP may still end up as ring masters this time amidst nail biting scenes. This is because people tend to choose a somewhat better option amongst the many horrible choices that is available right now.
Also the BJP has proven to have a thinner skin in matters of protecting its corrupt state ministers owing to its ideological influence from its political mentors that forces it to fall in line, but at the Karnataka state level, unlike the BJP, the Congress although brazen and thick skinned like the Rhinoceros otherwise, it has bucked up and is displaying delicate political shrewdness in its damage control steps just before the elections in the Harris-Nalapad case. The Goonda son Nalapad has been arrested immediately much like how KJ George was suspended only to be reinstalled later.
Also even before it occurred to the BJP or the JDS to demand sacking of MLA Harris on moral grounds, the Congress is already making it evident that it may not give tickets to him this time around, thereby ensuring that the opposition gets no political mileage out of this incident. This is not to say that the people are fooled with all these gimmicks nor are they ignorant about the lawless corrupt state of affairs in the state but it just becomes more evident that, at the fag end of their tenure the Congress is desperate and panicky too as it is making every last bit attempt to portray the stained and dirty laundry as a flawless one. Once this damage control is done they will inadvertently raise the Cauvery victory card which may go down well with the Karnataka people because one cannot fool all the people all the time.
The people of Karnataka know that the Cauvery issue is a long pending one that was not resolved by the Congress or any other party in the past and that the verdict today has come in sync with ground realities that too after a decade long wait. In this background if the Congress now chooses to play the political victor of Cauvery water gain it will be shown its place as it will be too evident just like the ugly political pitching that went into Mahadayi opera where even the most naïve mind could see through the political muck. However with the Congress’ meticulous appeasement politics and consistent door to door loan waivers, Indira Canteens and a budget full of farmer goodies from everybody else’s pockets some propped up farmers or really naïve ones who vote for notes may pretend to be getting fooled by the Congress’ victory claim on the Cauvery matter. Today everybody from the street vendor to the auto driver to the cleaner is aware of political scenario and is unlikely to be fooled unless they want to be fooled for all those goodies loyalties and political/caste rigidities.
While most news reports have made this verdict as a big relief to Karnataka and Bangaluru in particular the bitter truth remains that large apartment complexes in Bengaluru today are still deprived of Cauvery water connections and are primarily dependent on and at the mercy of tanker mafias. Apartment communities in Bengaluru are often harassed for Cauvery pipe connection with demands of huge bribes under the pretext of CSR by political representatives, failing to meet which keeps you in the eternal waiting lists, consuming borewell waters with dangerous levels of hardness. Will this extra bit of water prove substantial for the exploding needs of the city is something that is dependent on political will. And do the politicians really have the will to supply Cauvery water to one and all at the cost of aggravating their water tanker mafia interests is an untouched subject altogether.
From times immemorial political parties have made a ploy out of every other basic need of the common man making an absolute mockery of welfare by hijacking matters resolved by time as their own trophies of victory. If only someday some political party has the courage to include pothole free roads, reducing traffic congestion, better bus connectivity, breathing lakes, freehand to police, curtailing sand, garbage and tanker mafias in their political manifestoes will there be some real nation building but until such a time one can only hope that we return home safely without the fear of being beaten up by some arrogant political rowdy.