FIR against Karnataka deputy CM DK Shivakumar for promising Cauvery water in exchange for votes

The chief electoral officer of Karnataka announced on Saturday that a first information report has been filed against DK Shivakumar, Congress leader and Karnataka’s deputy chief minister, for violating the Mode Code of Conduct while campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections.

The Model Code of Conduct is a set of rules issued by the poll body that all political parties, candidates and the government are mandated to follow in the run-up to an election.

The Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party had written to the Election Commission objecting to a video of Shivakumar in which he purportedly promised the residents of Bengaluru’s RR Nagar a supply of water from the Cauvery river if they voted for his brother DK Suresh, who is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from the Bangalore Rural seat. He made the comments on April 7, according to The News Minute.

Bengaluru has been in the midst of a severe water crisis for the past two months.

“I have come for a business deal,” Shivakumar is heard saying in the video. “You have 2,510 houses, 6,424 votes in this premises. Your major problem is that you want a CA [civic amenities] site, which is a part of this apartment, to be handed over to you…Number two is Cauvery water…all other issues are small issues. If I get this done, what are you going to give me?”

The state election commissioner said that Shivakumar’s speech violated poll conduct rules and that a case of “bribery and undue influence at elections” had been filed against the Congress leader.

On Wednesday, after the video surfaced, BJP leader Amit Malviya had described Shivakumar’s remarks as a “brazen abuse of power” and accused him of holding voters to ransom.

Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka will be held in the next two phases on April 26 and May 7.

A first information report has also been lodged against Janata Dal (Secular) leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy for making false statements in connection with the Lok Sabha elections, and against state BJP chief BY Vijayendra for posting derogatory content about the Congress from the Karnataka BJP’s official X account.

The Cauvery water dispute

The distribution of Cauvery water has been a long-standing dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It dates back to two agreements in 1892 and 1924 between the erstwhile Madras Presidency and the Princely State of Mysore.

The Union government set up the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 1990, which delivered its verdict in 2007. The tribunal allocated 419 thousand million cubic feet of water per year to Tamil Nadu and 270 thousand million cubic feet of water to Karnataka.

However, this did not settle the dispute as both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka filed petitions to review the decision. The Supreme Court in 2018 ordered creation of the Cauvery Water Management Authority and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee as regulators.

The BJP has attempted to harness the contestations between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu against its rivals in the Opposition INDIA bloc.

The Karnataka government has had to adhere to the Supreme Court’s directive to obey the Cauvery Water Management Authority and release 5,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu.

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