KARNATAKA

Congress backs protest for water

TUMKUR, NOV. 29. The Congress has decided to support the indefinite dharna here from December 6 demanding "Oorigondu kere, aah kerege nadiya neeru."

Addressing a meeting here today, the President of the Tumkur District Congress Committee and former MLA, S.P. Muddahanume Gowda, said: "The Congress is leading the United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre. The party is a major partner in the coalition Government in the State. But we (Congress) are not shy of participating in the dharna as the demand related to irrigation and drinking water."

Defending his party's decision, Mr. Muddahanume Gowda said there was no inconsistency in it. The objective was to invite the attention of the Union and State governments to the needs of the people in 72 taluks of 12 districts. "The party will take active part in the dharna," he said.

The BJP leaders had on November 26 announced their support to the protest if it was organised on a non-party basis.

The former Tumkur MP, G.S. Basavaraju, who presided over the meeting, said the dharna was proposed by him as president of the Karnataka Rajya Samagra Neeravari Abhivriddhi Samiti, which was apolitical. He appealed to all political parties to support it.

G.S. Paramashivaiah, irrigation expert, said he had developed a plan to fill all village tanks in 72 taluks of 12 districts around Tumkur by diverting water from the west-flowing rivers. A survey had found the plan feasible, he said.

K.R. Nayak, trade unionist, said that all political parties, their affiliated trade unions, and organisations should take part in the dharna. Mr. Nayak said that this was an opportune time to forge all-party unity in the district.

People would appreciate the leaders if they kept aside their political differences and joined hands on issues related to irrigation and drinking water, he said.

Mr. Basavaraju said that initially the dharna would be held in Tumkur and it would be later extended to other district headquarters later.

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