Last year, in July, “We will build a dam across the Cauvery at Mekedatu; it does not require the approval of the Tamil Nadu government,” said the Eduyurappa-led BJP government and also its Construction began as planned. The Union Modi government showed its antagonism against Tamil Nadu by ordering the Karnataka government to file a detailed project report on the construction of the dam, without stopping the Karnataka government’s illegal activities.
All political parties in Tamil Nadu except BJP, have spoken out in parliament, saying, ” This is an act of lawlessness, and the dam across the river Cauvery cannot be built without the consent of Tamil Nadu.” Many people including farmer’s unions, protested against the Karnataka government and the central government. On behalf of the People’s Power Organization, Dharmapuri zone cadres mobilise mass and marched towards Mekedatu and also besieged. Following this, the Mekedatu Dam project has been suspended temporarily due to strong protests in Tamil Nadu.
In this situation, Karnataka’s Congress party has taken up the issue of the Mekedatu Dam for the vote-bank politics. It also claiming that congress party will be the only alternative to fascist BJP in India. Then the Karnataka Congress party planned to go on a padayatra for ten days under the slogan “Our water, our rights” from Mekedatu towards Bengaluru to demand the completion of the construction of the Mekedatu Reservoir across the Cauvery River.
On the ninth of January, in Kanagapura taluk- Ramanagara district, with the thousands of Congress volunteers, opposition parliamentary leader Mallikarjun Kharge started the padayatra at the confluence of the Kari and Argavathi rivers. The Congress party leader, D.K. Shivakumar, Opposition leader Siddaramaiah, former Deputy Chief Minister Parameswar and a number of film personalities, including former ministers, were present. “This project is actually designed to useful for both states,” Mallikarjun Kharge said after launching the padayatra. “However, due to Tamil Nadu’s opposition, it has sparked unnecessary controversy.”
Former Water Resources Minister K Sivakumar and also Kanagapura’s MLA, said, “This padayatra is for the people neither for Congress party nor for the opposition and also he added that, in the past Congress had fought for national independence, likewise, in present the same Congress fighting for water against BJP which shows that he combined the pseudo-independent struggle with their own despicable racism.
siddharamaiah claimed that the Mekedatu dam project was initiated by his own Congress-led government, and he accused the BJP of betraying its own people in Karnataka and also formed an alliance with Tamil Nadu. Through this, he claimed that the Karnataka Congress was a pioneer than the BJP in betraying Tamil Nadu.
Karnataka-BJP Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai denied all the allegations and accused that, “Congress only betrayed the people of Karnataka by not implementing the Mekedatu project during this tenure”. In addition to that, he said, Congress allotted Rs. 10,000 crores for the Krishna River water project but only spent Rs. 7,000 crores, and the Congress party was not standing firm on any irrigation project. He added, “The ruling BJP party is actually carrying out the Mekedatu project. After I became the chief minister, the full report on the project was sent to the Central Water Commission and the Cauvery Monitoring Board for approval. A meeting on this project will be held this month and decisions will be taken.
The purpose of constructing a dam across the Cauvery River at a cost of Rs.9,000 crores is to set up a drinking water reservoir which helps to store surplus water and is used for supplying drinking water and generating electricity to Bangalore and its surrounding districts, according to the Karnataka government. However, this is directly showing the racialist plan of the Karnataka parties to usurp the water rights of Tamil Nadu and a new dam is being built at Mekedatu for the benefit of hotel and real estate owners in Bangalore. The Karnataka racialist parties have been touting the plan to divert Karnataka’s water resources to corporates and making a story which is benefit for the people and farmers of Karnataka.
In Karnataka, four major dams and more than five smaller dams have already been built across the tributaries of the Cauvery. With the help of major dams, nearly 104.55 TMC of water is stored. Firstly, the needs of Karnataka are fulfilled, and then the rest of the water is supplied to Tamil Nadu. In this case, if the dam is built in Mekedatu, the surplus water will not come to Tamil Nadu. There are 26 lakh acres of irrigated land in Tamil Nadu, which depends on the Cauvery River for agriculture, and will become a desert. Drinking water will not be available in 25 districts, including Chennai, Ramanathapuram, Vellore, and Tirupur. Already, the Karnataka government is not giving Tamil Nadu’s own share of the Cauvery River if this dam is built on Mekedatu, which would lead to burying Tamil Nadu’s rights permanently.
In many respects, the Congress party, which pretends to be at odds with the BJP, is competing with the BJP in inciting Kannada racism against Tamil Nadu. We also have to look at one thing: even though the Congress party is the weaker one at the national level, it will be the only alternative to the RSS-BJP and also be a secularist and liberalistic Democratic Party. As a result, as progressive-thinking democrats and intellectuals have stated, we can support Congress in its efforts to dethrone the BJP in the upcoming elections. They also never opened their mouths regarding the activities carried out by the Karnataka Congress on the Mekedatu dam construction.
If inciting racism induces people to vote for the Congress party, they will use it. They do have principles and theories solely based on obtaining votes. The Congress Party is not only racism, but also religious fanaticism, as evidenced by its collaboration with the RSS-BJP on the issue of Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple. Unlike the RSS-BJP, the Congress can be said to be ‘soft’ if you will. But we point out that this ‘softness’ is subject to the ‘violence’ of saffron fascism.
The politicization of the masses and the ground struggles of democratic alliances are the only answers to fascism and the demand for basic democratic rights. Polling votes will not be an alternative, and it is just absurd, as we saw in the Mekedatu dam issue.