Cauvery row: Kamal Haasan says TN govt acting subservient to Centre


Actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan has intensified his campaign against E Palanisamy-led Tamil Nadu government and the Centre for sitting tight on the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Cauvery water sharing.

Criticising the Central government for not constituting a Cauvery management board (CMB), Kamal Haasan on Wednesday said the Tamil Nadu government is functioning like a subservient government to the Centre rather than upholding the state’s rights, which is the essence of India’s federalism.

“While the responsibility of constituting the water management board is with the Centre, the Tamil Nadu government cannot imagine that it has fulfilled its duty towards the people, who elected them, by just filing a contempt petition in the Supreme Court or by holding a farcical one day hunger strike,” Kamal told the media in Trichy.

Stating that the primary focus of the public meeting would be the Cauvery issue, Makkal Needhi Maiam president Kamal Haasan said, “We would bring to the notice of the public the key issues surrounding this Cauvery water dispute as also the possible solutions that we all need to work on. We will also be stating some of the key policy guidelines of our party. This would be a precursor to the overall policy document that we would publish in the next five months.”

Kamal Haasan said, “We were hopeful that the Supreme Court order would be implemented in toto and the Centre will constitute the CMB within the deadline of six weeks.”

He further added, “The court had unequivocally said that no extension will be granted under any grounds. But today, to our dismay we are witnessing a repeat of what happened in 2016.”

The actor-politician cited a September 2016 Supreme Court order 2016 directing the constitution of the CMB within a period of four weeks and the Centre’s failure to do so then “under the pretext of legal technicalities.”

Talking to NDTV, Haasan said that the BJP-led national coalition’s last-minute move to seek a clarification from the Supreme Court was motivated by electoral politics; the elections in Karnataka.

“It is a political game. It is obvious,” Haasan said on his way to Tiruchirapalli where he will address a huge public meeting later on Wednesday evening. But then, he said, this was something that people of Tamil Nadu were aware of. “But as a new party’s founder, I will have to reiterate it,” he added.

The superstar, who forayed into politics recently, said Tamil Nadu had been denied its rights and “somebody” was blocking the state from receiving justice just when it was so close to. “It (Justice) is at our door step, and now it is being delayed. Just when we were all set to celebrate,” he said.

In February, the Supreme Court reduced Tamil Nadu’s share of water from the river Cauvery and said Karnataka would receive a bigger share, which would benefit cities like its capital Bengaluru.

Over the past few days, Kamal Haasan has been reaching out to people who he believes are suffering due to the government’s policies or inaction. This week, he had also travelled to the port city of Thoothukudi, also known as Tuticorin, where villagers have been protesting to demand closure of the copper smelting plant complaining that it had accentuated air and water pollution.

The 765-km-long Cauvery river, originates in Kodagu district in southern Karnataka and flows into Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. Called the Ganga of the south, it is considered a lifeline for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Kamal Haasan said consecutive governments had been playing with the lives of delta farmers on either side of border, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

“And they have been playing ruthlessly without regard for livelihood. So much so, Tamil Nadu has almost come to the point of depleting all its groundwater sources,” Haasan told NDTV.

Kamal Haasan had initially planned to make his train journey to Trichy a mega event along the way and was expected to meet fans at railway stations along the way. But the railways reportedly disapproved of the initiative, pointing that it would inconvenience other passengers.