Bengaluru is set to witness two bandhs in a span of 10 days, as Vatal Nagaraj, the President of the Confederation of Pro-Kannada Organisations, has called for a state-wide bandh on January 25 and also a separate bandh only in Bengaluru on February 4.
The bandhs are being called in order to put pressure on the Centre to resolve the decades-long Mahadayi water sharing issue. The second bandh in Bengaluru is being organised to co-incide with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the city for the BJP’s Parivarthana Yatra celebrations.
“We will carry out a state-wide bandh in support of the farmers, who have been protesting for years for water. This issue must be resolved quickly. That’s why we have called for another bandh when PM Modi will arrive for the Parivarthana Yatra valedictory function,” Nagaraj added.
However, the bandhs may not affect the daily life for people of the state, as not everyone is in favour – including farmers’ associations, whom Vatal Nagaraj seems to be speaking for. Associations say they were never consulted before the call for a bandh was issued.
Kurubara Shantakumar, President of Rajya Raitha Sangha told TNM that the bandh is only going to inconvenience the common man, while not having any impact on the political leaders.
“Till now we have had three bandhs in the state regarding the Mahadayi issue. Did it make any difference? No, it did not. How can he call for a bandh without consulting the farmers, who are the ones being affected by this issue?” he asked.
“We have to come up with new ways of agitation. What have all the previous bandhs done? Nothing. Leaders both in the Central and state governments are just cheating us. Now that a bandh has been called for, who is to say that the Prime Minister will not cancel his visit? What would be the point then?” Shantakumar added.
However, by Monday afternoon, a faction of the Confederation of Pro-Kannada Organisations reverted their stand and said that they do not support the call for a bandh.
Speaking to the media, member of the Confederation, Nagesh, said that he will “protest outside the homes of Siddaramaiah, Yeddyurappa and HD Kumaraswamy” but would not “inconvenience auto drivers, taxi drivers and daily-wage workers”.
“Bandhs only inconvenience people. Auto drivers and taxi drivers will lose a day’s business, daily wage workers will not be able to commute to work as they rely on public transport, people’s lives will take a back seat. We are willing to take up the Mahadayi issue in new Delhi and even hold protests there but we do not want to make lives harder for other,” Nagesh added.
Reacting strongly to the developments, BJP state President BS Yeddyurappa said that the bandh was being organised by the Congress.
“The Congress is backing this bandh only because they do not want people to turn up at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Bengaluru. This is politically motivated,” Yeddyurappa said.
Meanwhile, BJP’s Leader of Opposition in Vidhana Sabha, Jagadish Shettar said that if the bandh happens on February 4, then BJP will also call for a bandh when Rahul Gandhi visits Karnataka.
“This is a political game. If Congress can call for a bandh we will also call for one when Rahul Gandhi is in the state,” Jagadish Shettar added.