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The following are excerpts from a nine-page statement issued by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, on the Cauvery issue:
There has been a plethora of statements in the print media made by Opposition leaders and Members of Parliament like Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, sitting in judgement on my stand and efforts with regard to the Cauvery issue.
Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, the distinguished Member of Parliament from the delta area, who has not till date moved his little finger to get water from the Cauvery for his constituency, has charged me with plagiarising his version of the issue, besides accusing the AIADMK MPs of never highlighting this sensitive issue in Parliament. I would like to emphasise that all my party MPs have been provided with a dossier on my statements pertaining to important issues like the CRA and there can be no question of any of them dithering on the stand to be taken by them.
The charge of "plagiarism" against me is totally unwarranted as there was complete convergence of views with Mr. Aiyar at that point of time in 1998 vis-à-vis the formation of the Cauvery River Authority. Mr. Aiyar's own reference to have received a congratulatory letter from me is proof-sufficient of my contention. In one of my statements, I had even gone beyond that and called the CRA a "toothless wonder". This expression has been oft-quoted in the media and Mr. Aiyar himself has been using it to reinforce his point of view now and then. That being so, it is indeed surprising that Mr. Aiyar should levy the charge of "plagiarism" against me, now that we are politically apart.
Mr. Main Shankar Aiyar's piece in The Hindu, published on 13.9.2002, assailing my handling of the Cauvery issue is a left-handed attempt to blow his own trumpet, which he successfully did in every other paragraph of his article, reminding us, in case we had forgotten, that he is a representative in Parliament of the delta region. The Congress party, which he represents, was too busy trying to cobble together some semblance of unity in its disorganised ranks and its leader in Tamil Nadu was too busy slinging mud at me to pay any heed to the loudness of its `most consistent critic', Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, on the Cauvery issue.
As for Mr. Aiyar's attack on the State Government that Tamil Nadu did not use even the Central Calamity Fund at its disposal, he needs to be enlightened that the State Government has sanctioned as much as Rs. 57 crores from the Calamity Relief Fund for various programmes in the delta areas. The first release of Rs. 49 crores was made as early as in the month of February 2002. It is only when the funds allotted to the State Government are exhausted that the National Calamity Fund needs to be accessed. Timely help to the delta farmers has been provided through a well-thought out package of Rs. 164 crores which I announced as early as in June 2002. We do not need the likes of Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar to pontificate on what the State Government needs to do.
Karnataka's intransigence and the Centre's partisan attitude were more than clear in the meetings of the Cauvery River Authority and it was my bold initiative to move the Supreme Court of India that even led to the few forward steps that could be taken in the matter... Mr. Aiyar is certainly right in his assertion that the Cauvery is not an inter-party issue but an inter-state one. But it is not the AIADMK or I who think of it as such, but the Congress in Tamil Nadu and the Congress in Karnataka who are treating it as such.
My grievance against the 10 Union Ministers from Tamil Nadu for not using their position or clout to convince the Prime Minister with regard to meeting out justice to Tamil Nadu is based on my true understanding of the political situation obtaining in Tamil Nadu at present. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Centre is turning a blind eye to the plight of Tamil Nadu's farmers to whom Cauvery water is a lifeline source. If a collective stand could not be taken on the Cauvery issue, it is wholly due to the recalcitrance of the "Opposition" MPs from Tamil Nadu and their unwavering commitment to opposing any initiatives taken by me with regard to settling the Cauvery issue amicably.
The PMK leader, Dr. Ramadoss, and the MDMK Union Minister of State, Mr. Kannappan, have blamed my stand on the Cauvery issue and raised the question as to whether the AIADMK MPs ever visited the Prime Minister along with a delegation of MPs belonging to other parties in Tamil Nadu, to make a representation to him seeking justice for Tamil Nadu in the Cauvery issue. I convened an All-Party Meeting last year on 8.9.2001 regarding the Cauvery issue. An all-party delegation led by Tamil Nadu Ministers Dr. Thambi Durai and Mr. Thalavai Sundaram, and including MPs of all parties, called on the Prime Minister in New Delhi on 10.9.2001 and requested him to see that justice was rendered to Tamil Nadu on the Cauvery issue. No matter how many times we organise such meetings, our stand has been the same and is very clear - implementation of the Interim orders of the Tribunal.
In Karnataka, the reason for frequently convening such all-party meeting is that the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr. S.M. Krishna, who has been continuously defying the orders of the Cauvery Waters Disputes Tribunal, the decisions of the CRA and the orders of the Supreme Court, has to seek the blessings, support and cooperation of the Opposition parties for openly defying the orders of such statutory bodies. Because the Karnataka Chief Minister was consistently on the wrong side of the law, he tried to obtain the support of all the political parties for not releasing water to Tamil Nadu. The position in Tamil Nadu is entirely different. We are on the right side of the law. Tamil Nadu has the full backing of the interim orders of the Tribunal and the order of the Supreme Court.
May I ask why Mr. M. Karunanidhi is still not coming out with any meaningful statement on this vital issue affecting the lives of millions of people in Tamil Nadu? ... At a time when the Cauvery tangle is a burning issue, Mr. Karunanidhi prefers to talk only about irrelevant matters.
It would not be out of place to mention here the efforts taken for protecting the interests of Karnataka State by its political leader. For instance, when Mr. Ananth Kumar, a relatively junior Minister in the Union Cabinet, belonging to the BJP, could camp in the PM's house and bring pressure to bear upon the Prime Minister and prevail upon him to convene an emergency meeting of the CRA on 8.9.2002 to nullify the Supreme Court's order in favour of Tamil Nadu, why did not Mr. Maran, Mr. T.R. Baalu and indeed all the 10 Central Ministers from Tamil Nadu also camp in the PM's residence and counter the moves of the single BJP Minister from Karnataka?... We have three BJP Ministers from Tamil Nadu in the Union Council of Ministers, in Mr. Jana Krishnamoorthy, Mr. Pon Radhakrishnan and Mr. S. Thirunavukkarasar, who are far senior to Mr. Ananth Kumar. Why is that the three Ministers from Tamil Nadu could not do this in favour of Tamil Nadu?
I would also like to mention at this stage that the role of the media in Tamil Nadu on the Cauvery issue has been very disheartening and very disappointing and deserved the severest condemnation. Dailies like The Hindu have gone to the extent of lauding the efforts of the Karnataka Chief Minister by publicising his so-called achievements under catchy captions. It is a sad pointer to the total moral degeneration and lack of loyalty to Tamil Nadu not only on the part of all the Opposition parties, their leaders and Ministers, but also on the part of most sections of the media, with very few exceptions... It is pertinent to note that the kind of loyalty to the State exhibited by the political class in Karnataka is totally absent in Tamil Nadu.
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