Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday blamed the Congress party for politicising the issue of Mahadayi river water sharing with neighbouring Goa. “Congress is misleading people in the name of Mahadayi and is only politicising the issue. During a 2007 Goa Assembly poll campaign speech, then Congress President Sonia Gandhi had assured Goa that Mahadayi river water will not be shared,” recalled Modi addressing a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rally in Gadag, about 380km from Bengaluru.
Speaking at Goa’s Margao city, Gandhi had in 2007 told people that the Congress was committed to not allow the sharing of Mahadayi water with Karnataka. The Congress was only showing its “true colours” by politicising the issue ahead of the upcoming May 12 Karnataka Assembly polls, alleged Modi in his 45-minute speech in Hindi, translated into Kannada by BJP’s Lok Sabha lawmaker from the state, Pralhad Joshi.
Accusing the ruling Congress of “looting” the southern state and being “indifferent” to the depleting natural resources, Modi alleged that the party had set up a huge tank in Karnataka to store the looted money, with a pipeline to Delhi to fund the party. Having lost elections in several states where it previously held power, the Congress was desperate to win Karnataka, Modi said.
“Congress is quite worried about losing Karnataka because if they lose power in this state, they’re concerned about what will happen to the party’s leaders in Delhi.” If the Congress lost Karnataka after the vote count on May 15, the party would be reduced to “Punjab, Puducherry Parivar Congress”, the Prime Minister mocked.
The 77-km-long Mahadayi originates at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in Belagavi district and flows into Goa and joins the Arabian Sea off the West Coast. Although the river flows 29km in Karnataka and 52km in Goa, its catchment area is spread over 2,032km in the southern state as against 1,580km in the western state (Goa).
Karnataka has been asking Goa since 2001 to release 7.6 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of the river water to meet drinking and irrigation needs of its people in the four drought-prone districts namely — Gadag, Bagalkote, Belagavi and Dharwad — in the state’s northwest region. BJP President Amit Shah in February told a media briefing in Kalaburagi, about 630km north of Bengaluru, that the party was committed to resolving the water sharing issue with Goa if they won the ensuing election.
“I guarantee the people of Karnataka that we will resolve the Mahadayi water issue with Goa if we win the ensuing assembly election. We will find a solution soon after coming to power in the state,” Shah had said. Modi is on his third visit to the poll-bound state this month to campaign for the party and its candidates ahead of the assembly polls. He will address two more rallies in Shivamogga and Mangaluru later in the day.