Cauvery Row: Jayalalithaa to return back with an empty pot?

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Jayalalitha and Jagadish Shettar
Bangalore/Salem, Nov 28: Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar is meeting his Tamil Nadu counterpart J Jayalalithaa on Cauvery water sharing on Thursday, Nov 29 in the backdrop of divisive politics being played by his party strongman BS Yeddyurappa.

Shettar is neck deep in problems of holding the party and preparing for the elections next year as Yeddyurappa is threatening to walk away with a fair number of party leaders. The Karnataka chief minister has little room for adjustments even in terms of posturing. Shettar is from Central Karnataka and cannot be seen to sacrifice the sentiments of Cauvery area in South Karnataka.

Taking all these factors, Jayalalithaa is well advised to keep her expectations of striking a bargain to a minimum or as low as the water level in Mettur dam. The water-level in the Mettur dam on Thursday morning stood at 47.81 feet against the full level of 120 feet.

The meeting at Bangalore is historic and the chief ministers of warring states are talking on the issue after nearly 14 years. The Tamil Nadu chief minister is flying to Bangalore after the Supreme Court asked both the chief ministers to meet and arrive at an amicable solution to the "sensitive" water dispute.

Even if one keeps politics away for a day, Jayalalithaa has difficult bargaining position as the storage position of Karnataka reservoirs are not conducive to a pro-rata sharing. Krishn­araja­sagar, Kabini, Hemavathi and Harangi jointly store around 50 tmcft. Under the distress sharing formula, TN would get half the storage and that could be about 25 tmcft.

Karnataka BJP is in such a flux that Yeddyurappa may resign as a legislator on Nov 30 and the party may fall back on Shettar, who is also a Lingayat leader. The party is likely to project him as their chief minister and balance the vote politics with Vokkaliga DV Sad­an­anda Gowda and Kuruba community leader KS Esh­warappa at organisational level.

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