Bengaluru: Bandh in Karnataka today from 6 am to 6 pm over Mahadayi water sharing dispute.
Many schools in the state capital Bengaluru have declared a holiday today. Some exams have also been rescheduled because of the bandh. State transport buses will be running as usual but private transport services are expected to be affected. Taxis and autorickshaws are also likely to be off the roads.
Some Kannada groups are opposing today's bandh - showing a split among these organisations. Those against the bandh held a march near the Town Hall today and asked people not to observe the bandh. The timing of the bandh is being considered awkward by the Bhartiya Janata Party, with party president Amit Shah scheduled to address a rally in Mysuru tomorrow to mark the culmination of the state wide Parivartana Rally of BS Yedurappa, the BJP's chief ministerial face in Karnataka.
To make matters worse, another bandh has been called on February 4 when Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to address a rally in Bengaluru. The BJP claims it is not a coincidence, accusing the ruling Congress of being behind the change of date of the first bandh from the January 27 to the 25. The BJP has in turn called for bandhs in districts when Congress President, Rahil Gandhi visits the state.
The BJP has also been at the receiving end of protests on the Mahadayi issue earlier with farmers protesting outside the party's office in Bengaluru in December, claiming that state party chief, BS Yeddyurappa, had not lived up to his promise to solve the water sharing issue by December. This followed a letter from Goa Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar to Mr Yeddyurappa on the issue. Mr Parrikar faced criticism for writing a letter to Karnataka BJP chief on the issue skirting Siddaramaiah, who is the Chief Minister.
Karnataka and Goa are locked in a tussle over the sharing of Mahadayi river waters. The river originates in Karnataka but largely flows through Goa before emptying into the Arabian Sea. The dispute grew over the last two decades after Karnataka's bid to construct barrages and canals to divert the waters for meeting the requirements Gadag, Bagalkot, Dharwad, Belagavi and Gadag districts, which are known to face acute water scarcity. Goa had opposed Karnataka's move and took its neighbour to Supreme Court in 2006 after which the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in 2010.
The Mahadayi water sharing dispute is politically sensitive for the Congress and BJP in Karnataka as the state votes for the Assembly elections this year.