Monday, 7 April, 2008

Jaya slams Karunanidhi

S Shiva Kumar for Meri News
AIADMK SUPREMO and former Tamilnadu chief minister Jayalalithaa who maintained a studied silence when violence erupted on both sides of the Karnataka-Tamilnadu border over the Hogenakkal Integrated Water Supply Scheme, has now deigned to mouth a few words on the issue. She has opposed the Tamilnadu chief minister Karunanidhi’s decision to put the said scheme on hold. Probably she waited for a chink in Karunanidhi’s armour to reveal itself so she could pounce on him and Karunanidhi did not disappoint her either. He obliged her sooner than later by putting the Scheme on hold in deference to the wishes of the ‘Madam from Delhi’, thus playing into the hands of the ‘Madam from Chennai’.

Well, the Chennai Madam, Jayalalitha, charged Karunanidhi with surrendering the rights of Tamils under pressure from the Centre, instead of removing the stumbling blocks. Tamilnadu was under no obligation to seek a clearance from Karnataka for the project since Hogenakkal was part of the state. The scheme envisaged use of Cauvery water that flowed into Tamilnadu. When the Karnataka government was implementing the Bangalore drinking water scheme, why should Tamilnadu be prevented from implementing its own drinking water scheme? The surrender by Karunanidhi was uncalled for since Karnataka had no right to intervene in the project.

She reminded Karunanidhi that the Tamilnadu assembly adopted a resolution in support of the scheme earlier on, only to drop it subsequently. This was against established norms. The house should have been informed of it. The implementation of the project had been influenced by the ensuing assembly elections in Karnataka and that was not acceptable to the people of Tamilnadu. Karunanidhi had betrayed the people of Tamilnadu by linking the issue to the ensuing assembly polls in Karnataka. He had lost the moral right to continue as chief minister of Tamilnadu. Tamilnadu should have a government which was prepared to fight for its rights. The decision on the part of Karunanidhi amounted to a tacit admission on the part of the government of Tamilnadu that Karnataka had the right to decide on the fate of the project. Karunanidhi had granted a ‘non-existent’ right to Karnataka. She wondered whether Tamilnadu deserved such a chief minister. She wound up by saying that whether it was the dispute over the Cauvery waters or Mullaperiyar dam or the Palar row, the discussions held by the DMK government with the states concerned proved to be nothing but “empty talks.”

There is some truth in what the Jayalalitha says. But she has left unsaid another distinct possibility if recent experience in Karnataka is anything to go by. What if the assembly elections in Karnataka throw up a fractured verdict? A brittle coalition government will come to power. The please-all government cannot afford to displease any of its partners. It will be preoccupied with more important issues like holding the belligerent coalition partners together so President’s rule and / or another election can be avoided. So the Karnataka government in such a case will plead its inability to accede to the Tamilnadu government’s request to give the go-ahead to the Hogenakkal Scheme. It may again ask the Tamilnadu government through the Madam from Delhi, Sonia Gandhi, to wait until a ‘stable’ popular government is in place. So the Tamilnadu government may be asked to wait until a popular and stable government assumes office in Karnataka – a big ‘and’ indeed!

Additionally, it was a popular Karnataka government that gave the go-ahead to the Hogenakkal scheme way back which the present regime in Karnataka refuses to honour. In the circumstances, can the Tamilnadu government attach any credence in future to the undertaking of a popular Karnataka government is the question.

Jayalalitha conveniently forgets that she was the chief minister of Tamilnadu for sometime, post-1998. Why did she not take up the dormant project then? As the PMK boss Ramadoss (father of the Union Health Minister) rightly says, if either the DMK or AIADMK which ruled the state post-1998 had implemented the scheme promptly, things would not have come to such a pass. A stitch in time saves nine and the Chennai Madam had better realise that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.

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