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Will TN, Karnataka bury hatchet at last?

Will TN, Karnataka bury hatchet at last?

Author: Swati Das
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 9, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/194679/Will-TN-Karnataka-bury-hatchet-at-last.html

Finally, a day has come when the bonhomie between Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and his counterpart in Karnataka seem to be working. This time, it revolves around installation of statues of saint-poets of the two languages in each other's lands and not water issues.

For 18 years, the Kannada chauvinist groups did not allow Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar's statue to be installed in Bangalore. Similarly, the Tamil chauvinists did not allow the 16th century Kannada poet Sarvagna to be installed in Chennai for the last seven years. Finally, things seemed to have made headway and Thiruvalluvar's statue would be installed in Bangalore on August 9 and Sarvagna's in Chennai on August 13.

The credit goes to the two Chief Ministers. In fact, the process was initiated when Yeddyurappa visited Chennai for a health check-up a month ago. The two discussed the pending statue installations at Karunanidhi's Gopalapuram residence, skirting the more burning Hokkenegal and Cauvery water issues. Perhaps, the statue issue proved to be easier to approach than the water disputes, which even the friendship between Karunanidhi and former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna could not resolve.

Following the meeting between the two Chief Ministers in Chennai, the modalities were worked out. In the Tamil Nadu Assembly on July 14, Karunanidhi announced the proposal to launch the statues in Bangalore and Chennai in a statement under Rule 110. The installation of the Sarvagna statue, which arrived in Chennai 10 days ago, would be done in a park maintained by the LIC in United India Colony in Aynavaram. The place was chosen by the Kannada Sangha of Chennai, as a lot of Kannadigas reside around this park in north Chennai.

Karunanidhi is currently on a holiday in Bangalore and is staying at his older daughter MK Selvi's farmhouse in Harohally in Kanakapura near Bangalore. On Tuesday, Yeddiyurappa met the Octogenarian at the farmhouse and formally extended invitation to unveil the Thiruvalluvar statue on Sunday. Karunanidhi too formally invited Yeddyurappa to unveil the statue of Sarvagna in Chennai on August 13.

However, Yeddyurappa is said to use this friendship to influence the granting of classical status to Kannada language. At least, that is what the Kannada activists want him to do and Yeddyurappa is all out to pacify the activist so that the installation of the statues go off well. The activists have threatened a Bangalore bandh on Sunday.

One can not forget the bloody Cauvery riot of December 1991, instigated by the then Karnataka Chief Minister S Bangarappa in protest against the Centre publishing in official gazette on December 11, 1991 the interim award of the Cauvery River Water Tribunal of June 25, 1991. Tamils were the target in Bangalore, Mysore and Mandya along the border and Tamils fled Karnataka. There were reactions in Tamil Nadu as Kannadigas were attacked. This was the time when BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi's Ekta Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir was passing through Karnataka.

While the Cauvery riot was the climax of Kannadiga-Tamil bitterness, troubles often dog the border areas over the release of Cauvery water. While Tamil Nadu wanted water from Karnataka, the latter needed electricity from Tamil Nadu. Arm-twisting has been a common political game between the two States. During the antagonistic phases, Tamil films are not allowed to run in Karnataka cinema halls and Tamil Nadu stalls screening of Kannada films. However, in all cases, it's the chauvinistic groups on both sides who create the trouble and politicians take advantage.

But this time, there is no political opposition. Yeddyurappa and Karunanidhi's current move to dilute the animosity is considered a novel move and keenly watched. But whether or not the friendship would extend to water issues is yet to be seen.

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