Cauvery verdict: Oppn attacks AIADMK over cut in Tamil Nadu’s share, experts point to positives

There were mixed reactions to the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Cauvery dispute, with the opposition calling it a setback that the ruling AIADMK has failed to prevent – a charge that could hurt the party’s vote bank in the river basin. 

india Updated: Feb 16, 2018 23:50 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Cauvery verdict,Supreme Court,Cauvery verdict 2018
Police try to detain members of Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kalagham protesting against the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Cauvery river dispute, in Coimbatore on Friday. (PTI Photo)

Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu attempted to turn up the heat on the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government on Friday after the Supreme Court reduced its share of Cauvery water but many experts, and farm community leaders, pointed out that the verdict held several positives for the southern state.

The main opposition party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), urged chief minister E Palaniswami to hold an all-party meeting and sought his resignation. “The government had failed to retain even what water (DMK chief M) Karunanidhi had secured for the state,” party working president MK Stalin told media.

“It was a shocking setback for Tamil Nadu (TN) , which is the result of the absolutely poor performance of the TN lawyers in the SC. The government must accept responsibility and resign,” said senior DMK leader Duraimurugan.

Filmstar-turned-politician Kamal Haasan said he was shocked at the reduction in Tamil Nadu’s share and called for farmers in both states to come together and form a “Cauvery family”. “Now we should not allow politicians to meddle in this and work out a solution with talks and negotiations,” said the actor, who is slated to launch his political party later this month.

His long-time screen rival and actor Rajinikanth, who has also announced his foray into politics, called the verdict disappointing. “Tamil Nadu government should take steps to file a review petition,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Palaniswami dismissed the criticism and said the reduction in allocation was disappointing but welcomed the formation of a water management board. “It is unfair to take into account the ground water level of Tamil Nadu to decide the quantum of water.”

His deputy, O Panneerselvam said the government will work diligently to get to farmers and people the 177.25 thousand million cubic feet of water apportioned by the Supreme Court.

“When did the DMK get us Cauvery water? I would like to remind that the DMK regime, despite being part of the Congress-led UPA, could not even get the tribunal’s final award published in the Central gazette,” Panneerselvam said, lauding former chief minister J Jayalalithaa for her “historic battle” over Cauvery water.

The strongest reactions came from the farming community, which feared an adverse impact on crops because of the reduced share of water. But many also expressed hope that they would finally receive water without long delays and reposed faith in the SC-mandated river water management board.

“It is the failure of the Tamil Nadu government to present its case properly in the Supreme Court,” said C Nallaswamy, secretary of the Federation of Tamil Nadu Agriculturalists Association.

But some farmers said they were ready to accept the verdict and only wanted Karnataka to keep up its end of the bargain.

“We welcome the judgment as it is for the first time that the Supreme Court has declared that the river water is not the property of Karnataka and must be shared with others,” said P Ayyakannu, state vice-president of the Bharathiya Kisan Sangam, a farmers body in the state.

The AIADMK might see some erosion of support in its bastion of the Cauvery delta if the opposition manages to build a perception that Cauvery verdict is unjust, said political analyst John Arokiaswamy. There are some 60 seats in Cauvery region comprising the districts of Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Tiruchirapalli and Karur. But no elections are scheduled in the near future.

Another analyst, R Duraiswamy, pointed out that the verdict also mandated the setting up the Cauvery Water Management Board, which Karnataka opposed. “There are a lot of positives for Tamil Nadu in the judgment that must not be lost sight of,” he added.

(with agency inputs)

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 23:03 IST