The dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu flares up as the level of water in the Cauvery dips. While the Karnataka government appears to have been pushed into the corner by the Supreme Court, the opposition BJP seems to have hit the hammer on its own foot.
After implementing two orders of the Supreme Court – September 5 and 12 – the Karnataka government has its back against the wall. The government says that the reservoirs simply do not have enough storage to release the quantum of water specified by the Supreme Court on September 21
But throughout the current crisis in the state, the BJP appears to have come out looking worse than the state government. Here are three crucial mistakes that BJP could have avoided:
Boycotting the all-party meet
In its haste to make the ruling Congress look bad, the BJP appears to have forgotten that there are times when politicking can work against you. Drinking water is one such issue. Like the protests over the Mahadayi in north Karnataka, a constant refrain heard during the Cauvery protests is that the question of drinking water cuts across party lines and should be treated as such, and that people should come together to find a solution to a serious problem.
Boycotting an all-party meet called by the Chief Minister may work against the party as it could make it seem as though the BJP did not work towards achieving a solution, as a constructive opposition is supposed to do.
Hesitance to involve the centre
Among the major political parties in the state, the BJP has been vocally against involving the centre, although there has been a demand from Kannada groups and farmers’ organization for the Prime Minister’s intervention. The Karnataka unit of the BJP however, has been consistently maintaining that the Cauvery dispute was an inter-state issue and that it should be treated as such. Given that the dispute between the two states is several decades old and that the state has reached an impasse, the Karnataka BJP should perhaps have made attempts to approach the centre, where it is in power.
Fear of Dravidian parties
Karnataka’s BJP unit seems to be suffering from a fear of the Dravidian parties of Tamil Nadu. In the event of central intervention, Karnataka’s interests would be sacrificed at the altar of the BJP’s national politics.
State BJP leaders fear that Tamil Nadu’s importance at the centre – in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha – would place that state at an advantage. The centre also needs the support of the AIADMK in the Rajya Sabha, where it is already short of strength. Also, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is perceived to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Note: The views expressed in this piece are the author's own