In an attempt to defuse the heated stand-off between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the Hogenakkal water project, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi said on Saturday that the scheme would be put on hold till elections were over and a new government installed in Karnataka.
<b1>“Let us now keep patience temporarily with an unshakeable belief that soon after the popular government assumes office in Karnataka, it will realise that justice is on our side and the project will be implemented as per the agreement reached in 1998. If after that the present situation continues, we will prove to the world that the Tamils will not lose their self-respect and give away their rights, even if they lose their lives and properties,” Karunanidhi said in a statement in Chennai.
“Let the general elections in Karnataka be over, then we will have talks. If necessary we will agitate. Let us all hope that such a situation for agitation will not arise and the unity of the nation will be preserved.”
Former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna too had suggested this step a few days ago. Karunanidhi said he did not want the present spate of agitations against Tamils in Karnataka and the counter-agitation in Tamil Nadu to result in a permanent fraternal war and enmity between the two states undermining the unity of the country. He accused the BJP and anti-social elements in Karnataka, “who are totally opposed to Tamils and their welfare opposing the project for indulging in violent activities”.
His critics might accuse him off retracting since only last week he had said the project would be implemented at any cost. But it is also seen as a smart tactical move by the DMK veteran to keep in step with Krishna. According to sources, both Krishna and Karunanidhi did not want the BJP to exploit the crisis to its advantage in the May elections and arrived at this arrangement after talking to each other.