Karnataka Congress on Saturday held a meeting at the residence of state president DK Shivakumar in Kanakapura taluka as they began preparations for the 10-day-long 100 km padayatra for Mekedatu from Sunday.
The padayatra is part of Congress’s plans to pressurise the Basavaraj Bommai-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to initiate work on the contentious Mekedatu reservoir-cum-drinking water project that has seen vehement opposition from neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
The BJP has issued prohibitory orders in Ramanagara district citing the growing number of covid-19 infections in the state, which the Congress has alleged is being used to scuttle the 100-km march.
“We had announced this (Padayatra) a month ago. They (BJP government) have done it on purpose and only in Ramanagara district. Why have they clamped only Ramanagara district with Section 144, and why not in other districts? That shows that their intention is not Bonafide,” Siddaramaiah, the Leader of Opposition, said on Saturday.
He said that it remains to be seen if they will be “arrested or allowed” to carry on the march.
Meanwhile, thousands of Congress workers started congregating in Kanakpura taluka to prepare for the padayatra, scheduled to begin on Sunday.
The police and district administration have issued prohibitory orders against the march.
“We have informed them of these restrictions. We will take action according to the law if there are any violations,” said a senior police official from the district.
While the Congress maintained that the padayatra is to pressure the government to initiate works on the contentious project, it would also help the party mobilise much-needed support in the Old Mysuru region where it has lost some ground, largely due to the BJP and its tacit alliance with the BJP.
This is the region where the JD(S) draws most of its strength in terms of elected representatives. The BJP has been trying to make inroads both organically and inorganically to help its ambitions of returning to power with a full majority in 2023.
Congress, which both the BJP and JD(S) consider as the common enemy, has been trying to win back ground it lost since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“Are there separate rules for Dala (JD(S), Congress or BJP? Whatever rules apply for common people will be implemented here as well. This is a political walk for power, and nothing else,” Araga Jnanendra, Karnataka home minister, said on Saturday.