‘Bengaluru Bandh’: Transport services to be affected as federation extends support
Various organisations, including farmers’ groups and pro-Kannada activists, have called for a Bengaluru Bandh on September 26.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) services are likely to be affected on September 26 after the KSRTC Staff and Workers Federation extended its support for ‘Bengaluru Bandh’ called by pro-Kannada outfits, political groups and farmers’ associations, to protest the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
“Over 195 taluks in the state are facing drought due to lack of rain. The water in all the reservoirs in the state is not sufficient for use. The rain forecast is also not promising. In this situation, it is not possible to allow 5,000 cusecs of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu every day. Several political parties, pro-Kannada organisations and others across the state have already joined the struggle for justice,” the KSRTC Staff and Workers Federation said in a statement on Saturday.
“The agitation has increased in the Kaveri region. In this background, Bengaluru Bandh has been called on 26.09.2023. Our federation fully supports the bandh call. We call upon all the employees to make the bandh successful without running any buses from 6am to 6pm in all the units of the BMTC. We believe that the bandh will be successful without any kind of incitement and threats,” the statement further read.
Various organisations, including farmers’ groups and pro-Kannada activists, have called for a Bengaluru Bandh on September 26 to protest against the Karnataka government’s decision to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
This call for the bandh is expected to disrupt normal life in the city, with even driver unions, including those representing app-based auto-rickshaws and cabs, and restaurant associations announcing their support.
The bandh was initially called by the Karnataka Water Conservation Committee president, Kurubur Shanthakumar, who announced the Bengaluru bandh over the Cauvery issue on September 26 (Tuesday). Simultaneously, former MLA and pro-Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj convened a meeting of various organisations in the city to discuss a date for a state-wide strike in Karnataka.
The confusion arose as both leaders made announcements regarding the bandh, but they later met and decided to make a final announcement on September 25. Shanthakumar, however, maintained that he would not withdraw the bandh called for September 26.
He has further appealed to schools, colleges, IT companies, and the film chamber to declare a holiday in support of the bandh and demanded that the state government convene a special assembly session on the Cauvery water row. A protest march is scheduled from Town Hall to Mysuru Bank Circle at 11am on September 26. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also extended its support to the bandh, he said.
Ola, Uber Drivers and Owners Association President Tanveer Pasha announced support for the bandh and decided to stay off the roads on Tuesday. “There will be no compromise when it comes to land, language, and water. Without any second thoughts, we support the bandh,” Pasha said supporting the bandh.
Private schools union general secretary Shashikumar said that they would extend their support by wearing black bands on their arms. However, Shashikumar said it will not be possible to declare a holiday for schools as students have exams on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) plans to operate Namma Metro services as usual. Bengaluru Hotel Owners’ Association President PC Rao said that they would give moral support for the bandh. However, essential services, including hospitals, will remain open.
Meanwhile, chief minister Siddaramaiah said on Saturday that the state government will not restrict protests as it is the right of the people. “It is natural that protests take place in a democracy. We will not stop it.”
Deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar on Saturday urged activists to drop the call for Bengaluru Bandh and accused opposition parties of politicising the Cauvery issue. “Nothing will come out of it. The state government is committed to protecting the interests of its people and there is no need for a bandh.”
“We are doing our duty. BS Yediyurappa, Basavaraj Bommai and HD Kumaraswamy are doing their politics with new vigour. While they do politics on water, we are protecting our farmers. I will not reveal our strategy as it will jeopardise the state’s interests,” Shivakumar added.
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked the ruling Congress over the issue saying the Karnataka government is an agency of Tamil Nadu.
“Congress government leaders are working as agents of Tamil Nadu. They released water even before the Supreme Court’s directive. Not one drop of water should be released,” senior BJP leader and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa said, adding that the Congress government has no right to remain in power.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai demanded that former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi intervene and find a solution to the dispute. “She is the head of the INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) bloc... she can call Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin and convince him,” Bommai said.