Congress should not view dispute as election issue
Chennai: CPI national secretary D. Raja on Friday urged the Centre to intervene in the Hogenakkal drinking water project dispute and sort it out amicably.
The Centre could not afford to remain a silent spectator when the issue was turning serious in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, he told reporters here.
Accusing the BJP of pursuing negative politics by whipping up passions in Karnataka, Mr. Raja said the BJP leadership had to explain its stand on the issue, because BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had admitted that the permission to the project was given during the BJP regime in 1998.
“After dividing people on communal lines, the BJP is now trying to create a conflict between the people of the two States for gaining political mileage. It will not augur well for the integrity of the nation,” he warned.
Asked if the Congress was hesitant to intervene in the issue because elections were round the corner in Karnataka, he said the Congress should not view the dispute as a mere election issue. “The project is a long-pending demand of the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts, where groundwater has high concentration of fluoride.” Mr. Raja also suggested that the Centre consider convening a National Integration Council meeting in the wake of disturbing trends in various States.
“In Maharashtra, the north Indians were targeted, while people from Bihar were attacked in Assam. Now the Hogenakkal water dispute has created tension between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Let the Centre convene an NIC meeting to evolve a consensus on important issues.”
Mr. Raja said his party would organise picketing before Central government offices on April 17 and 18 to condemn the UPA government’s failure to control inflation and spiralling cost of essential commodities.
“Even the Reserve Bank of India has admitted that inflation is the greatest challenge to the Indian economy,” he said, adding that the middle class and the salaried class could not cope with the situation. In Tamil Nadu, the protest would be on April 18.
Expressing concern over the crisis faced by the agriculture sector, the CPI leader alleged that the Centre lacked both long-term and short term strategies to bail out farmers. “The government has no concrete plans to increase the productivity of food grains. It has also failed to strengthen the public distribution system,” he said, urging the government to ban forward and online trading.