Rally becomes Shivakumar-centric as Congress bigwigs start petering out
Bengaluru/Ramanagara: The Karnataka Congress’ padayatra, demanding implementation of Mekedatu project across the Cauvery river, has continued even as FIRs have been registered against nearly 30 of its leaders and others for taking part in it, defying COVID curbs.
D.K. Shivakumar (DKS), President, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), is pulling off a massive show of strength in his home turf Kanakapura. He kicked off a 10,000-strong padayatra from Kanakapura to Bengaluru, about 139 kms away, demanding that Karnataka Government start building a reservoir at the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers to increase drinking water supply to Bengaluru.
But reports coming from the rally venue have indicated that as the days pass, the rally is becoming Shivakumar-centric with many bigwigs of the party opting out of the rally. Opposition Leader Siddharamaiah, who dropped out of the padayatra after 4 kms on Sunday, has been advised rest by his personal doctors, and it remains uncertain whether he will rejoin the walk.
The first day of the rally ended at Doddalahalli and reached Kanakapura yesterday. Today, the rallyists will be staying at Chukkenahalli and tomorrow, the camp is at Ramanagara. On Day-5, the rally will pass through Bidadi and Kengeri on Day-6. It will enter Bengaluru on Day-7 and will then move through silicon city via Koramangala on Day-8, Basavanagudi on Day-9 and reach Gayatri Vihar, Palace Grounds on Day-10.
On Day-11 (Jan. 19), the rally will move from Palace Grounds through Race Course Road to reach National College Grounds in Basavanagudi where a public meeting is planned.
Remaining firm on continuing the padayatra despite the FIR lodged against Congress leaders, DKS said he had received information about violation of weekend curfew from 127 taluks. He said they will fight the FIR legally and ask the KPCC legal cell to fight the legal battle.
Meanwhile, Basavaraj Bommai Government has hinted at taking stringent measures before the padayatra reaches Bengaluru, which has been reporting a spurt in cases. Yesterday, Shivakumar again stoked a controversy by mingling with high school students as part of his padayatra, paying little heed to basic precautions — he wasn’t masked and students wore the masks on their chins. His behaviour invited heavy trolling by BJP.
Shivakumar refused to undergo a test and instead, accused the Government of conspiring to ensure his test comes positive, by sending an infected person to collect his swab. He reiterated that the spike in cases is manipulation by the Government.
Some leaders air differences
While Shivakumar is firm on taking the rally to its logical conclusion, some Congress leaders including Ramalinga Reddy believe such a show at this moment will not sit well with the public. Sources said that a majority of Congress MLAs from Bengaluru have said that even if the padayatra continues, it must stop at the outer limits of Bengaluru and not enter the city.
They are worried that if there is a rise in infections in Bengaluru, it will adversely affect the party’s chances in polls — Karnataka will see Assembly elections in the first half of 2023 and the Bengaluru city civic polls are set to be held before that.
8,000 people from Mysuru
Meanwhile, the Mysuru District Congress Committee (DCC) Media Cell has stated in a press release that over 8,000 people from Mysuru will head towards Ramanagara to join the rally. As a symbolic way to join the Mekedatu padayatra, a small event was held at Gandhi Square in city at 7 this morning where freedom fighters T. Puttanna and Srirangashetty watered saplings.
Hunsur MLA H.P. Manjunath, DCC President Dr. B.J. Vijayakumar, former MLAs Vasu, Kalale Keshavamurthy, former MLC R. Dharmasena and party workers were present.
It’s highly irresponsible on the part of D K Shivakumar and the Congress party to be undertaking this padayatra during this time. Neither the State nor the Central government is responsible for the delay in Mekedattu project. Tamilnadu has approached the courts and until the verdict is out, no government can do anything about this.
In a week or two, we will know how dangerous the current variant Omicron and possibly some delta as well on vaccinated and not-vaccinated people. It takes time for serious symptoms to develop. Hope it is not going to be that serious like we witnessed during 2nd wave. But, our politicians are taking a risky act just for political advantage if any.
If he dies after catching Covid/Omicron, not a great loss. Only his family members will miss him. There are others who salivating for his post will create a stampede to fill that vacancy.
He is banking on his evil deeds that even hell is trying to avoid him due to the fear of spoiling the environment