Tamil Nadu government officials, who represented the state in the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) meeting, walked out of a meeting on August 11 in protest against the Government of Karnataka for not releasing the required Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
Sandeep Saxena, Additional Chief Secretary to government, Water Resources Department of Tamil Nadu told journalists that the state had pointed out that 37.9 tmc ft water was deficit as on August 9, 2023. This was as per the Supreme Court judgment of 2018 and Tamil Nadu officials demanded the CWMA to issue directions to release water on a day to day basis.
However, the Karnataka side did not accept the arguments of Tamil Nadu and knowing that a solution would not be reached, the Tamil Nadu officials walked out of the meeting.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K Stalin is part of the INDIA alliance of which the Congress, which is in power in Karnataka, is also part of, Stalin has to raise the issue to keep himself relevant in Tamil Nadu politics.
The politics of Cauvery is very sensitive and the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu Tanjavur falls under the Cauvery delta zone and if the public feels that there is a compromise by the ruling class, they will respond in Lok Sabha elections.
With the DMK led front winning 38 of the 39 seats in the 2019 elections, the Congress as part of the then Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) led by the DMK won eight seats. As far as the Cauvery issue is concerned, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister will have to take a strong stand even if it means to sacrifice including political compulsions to stay himself afloat in the murky politics of Tamil Nadu.
DMK sources told IANS that if the Karnataka is upping ante in constructing a dam at Mekedatu across the Cauvery, then DMK may have to publicly announce snapping ties with the Congress as a pressure tactic and DMK will not shy away from taking such an extreme position.
The BJP and the AIADMK have already lashed out at Tamil Nadu government for not sharply reacting to the advances of Karnataka regarding the construction of Mekedatu dam. In the run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, either the Karnataka side has to keep quiet regarding the construction of the dam or can expect a drastic step from the DMK.
Former union minister and senior leader of BJP Pon Radhakrishnan has called upon both Stalin and Tamil Nadu Congress President K.S. Alagiri to firmly tell Karnataka government that they should not go ahead with the construction of Mekedatu dam. The statement of the senior leader was a clear message that the BJP will strongly take up the case of Cauvery which can be damaging to the interests of the DMK in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
AIADMK leader and former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) also lashed out against Stalin and the DMK government of Tamil Nadu and even addressed Stalin as a ‘puppet’ Chief Minister. EPS said that Stalin was not fiercely opposing the Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar’s public statement that the Karnataka government was going ahead with the construction of a dam at Mekedatu in Cauvery River.
With the opposition levelling serious charges against the Chief Minister and the DMK, Stalin will have no other option but to up his ante and fight for the people of Tamil Nadu, forgetting all other political arrangements and alliances.
C. Rajeev, Director, Centre for Policy and Development Studies, a think tank based out of Chennai while speaking to IANS said, "If Karnataka takes up the case of Mekedatu dam seriously, then Stalin has no other option but to be aggressive. After all DMK is a political party with strong regional antecedents and if that party does not take up the cause of the Tamil people, then its doomed which a shrewd and sharp politician like Stalin knows well. It has to be seen how Stalin responds in the days to come regarding the Mekedatu issue.”