Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's decision to release some water of river Mahadeyi to neighbouring Karnataka during Christmas season has earned him the moniker "Bad Santa Claus", courtesy the Shiv Sena's unit in the coastal state who alleged that precious water would be diverted for political reasons and not based on need.
The Shiv Sena in Goa has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to stop Mr Parrikar from releasing Mahadeyi water to Karnataka, where assembly elections will be held next year. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of the BJP had also addressed a rally in Congress-ruled Karnataka last week.
"Santa Claus distributes gifts to bring smiles on the faces of children but our Parrikar, who is a bad Santa Claus, has instead snatched the future of our children by agreeing to divert the water of River Mahadeyi," Shiv Sena's Goa spokesperson Rakhi Prabhudesai Naik said in the letter to PM Modi, news agency PTI reported.
Mahadayi is a rain-fed river whose water comes from some springs near Bhimgad in northern Karnataka. Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka have been locked in a tussle to get a respectable share of the river's water.
"This is the festival to give joy to people... but Parrikar's action of agreeing to give Mahadeyi river water to Karnataka has resulted in the state losing its hope for a better future," Mr Naik said. "The river is a gift for us from nature and our forefathers have worshipped and preserved it. It is our duty to pass it on to our future generation, and not to use it for our petty political gains."
Last week, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress criticised his Goa counterpart over writing directly to the neighbouring state's BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa -- and not to the chief minister himself -- on agreeing to share the river's water. Siddaramaiah said he had written many times to Mr Parrikar, but did not get any response.
"I only wish you (Mr Parrikar) had replied to my letter, since I took the initiative for the negotiated settlement; not only on my own but also on the suggestion made by the Hon'ble Judges of the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal," the Karnataka chief minister said in another letter to Mr Parrikar.
People familiar with the matter said the Goa chief minister's direct letter to the Karnataka BJP chief keeps out Siddaramaiah from the picture -- though the state government that he heads has the authority to negotiate water-sharing matters.
Siddaramaiah has sought a meeting with the chief ministers of Goa and Maharashtra to discuss the matter.
Karnataka has another long-running water dispute with Tamil Nadu over sharing the water of the Cauvery river.
With inputs from PTI