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|July 20, 1998||
Karnataka, TN leaders sandwich PM over Cauvery
Senior leaders from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are vying to impress upon Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee their stance over the Cauvery water sharing dispute.
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha, whose All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is a key constituent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition at the Centre, on Sunday warned Vajpayee of disastrous consequences if the Union government failed to notify the draft scheme for implementation of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal's interim award before July 21 and table it in Parliament.
The case (dispute over sharing of the Cauvery waters by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) is coming up before the Supreme Court on July 21.
In her 10-page-long hardline statement over the issue released in Madras, Jayalalitha, however, was ambiguous whether the "disastrous consequences" meant withdrawal of support.
Jayalalitha's statement comes after Defence Minister George Fernandes' assertion in Madras on Saturday, after a meeting with her, that the Cauvery dispute would be resolved satisfactorily in a day or two.
Union Minister of State for Coal Dilip Ray had also called on her at her Poes Garden home two days ago, apparently as an emissary of the prime minister.
The Vajpayee government has not been heeding her demand for the dismissal of Karunanidhi's Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government in the state. The BJP fears such a move would spark similar demands in other states.
So, observers said, the AIADMK has started raking up crucial issues concerning the state like Cauvery and reservations, to exert pressure of a different kind on the ruling coalition at the Centre. The AIADMK is not overtly pressing the dismissal demand.
Dr Subramanian Swamy, president of the Janata Party, one of the AIADMK's allies, had urged Jayalalitha to withdraw support to the government if the latter sought another adjournment in the Supreme Court on July 21, when the Cauvery case comes up for hearing.
Ruling out the possibility of a compromise between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the Cauvery dispute, Jayalalitha recalled that the Supreme Court had in 1995 dismissed the Karnataka government's petition against the interim award. Karnataka is obliged to implement the interim award, she added.
Jayalalitha pointed out that the apex court had directed the Union government to devise a scheme to implement the interim award under Section 6(a) of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956.
The draft scheme was formulated accordingly, and hence, the prime minister could not take a unilateral decision to delay its implementation, she asserted.
Criticising Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and Tamil Manila Congress president GK Moopanar for showing sudden interest in the issue, she said on the very day she and leaders of her allies submitted a memorandum on the issue to the prime minister, Karunanidhi faxed a hurriedly-drafted letter to Vajpayee.
She said the problem of Tamil Nadu not getting its due share of Cauvery waters began in the late 1960s during the DMK regime. Five rounds of talks with Karnataka when Karunanidhi was public works minister and chief minister had ended in failure, she added.
Meanwhile, an all-party delegation of members of Parliament from Karnataka has decided to meet Vajpayee today over the issue. A similar delegation from Tamil Nadu had already met the prime minister.
Karnataka Chief Minister J H Patel was expected to lead the delegation, but now it will be led by former chief minister and senior Janata Dal leader SR Bommai. The delegation will seek to counter the pressure exerted by political parties of Tamil Nadu on the Centre.
The delegation is also likely to impress upon the government to convene a meeting of chief ministers to settle the 100-year-old dispute.
Karnataka has opposed the creation of the River Valley Authority to implement the interim order of the Cauvery Disputes Tribunal which was to pronounce its final orders.
Tamil Nadu has rejected the talks saying such exercises had yielded nothing. The state wants nothing less than the notification of the appointment of the River Valley authority
The Karnataka delegation is likely to seek the government to formulate a national water policy as promised by the National Agenda for Governance which would form the guideline to the tribunals. Karnataka has not officially accepted the interim order of the tribunal.
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