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Cauvery scalps MP

Bangalore, Oct. 30: Actor-turned-Congress MP Ambareesh has decided to resign to show “solidarity” with Karnataka’s agitating farmers in the first direct political fallout of the S.M. Krishna government’s decision to release Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu.

The MP from Mandya, one of the places where anti-release demonstrations have been violent, told reporters today he would submit his resignation to party chief Sonia Gandhi.

Ambareesh said he had met Krishna and informed him of his decision.

He said legislators in the district had called on him and tried to persuade him not to hand in his papers.

Although he refused to be persuaded by them, the popular filmstar-turned-politician said he had told the legislators that they need not quit their Assembly membership.

Ambareesh said he did not blame his government but decided to quit to keep his word to the people of the district that he would resign his Lok Sabha membership if water is released to the lower riparian state. He, however, expressed dismay at the way Krishna fell in line with the Supreme Court’s directive.

“If I was to take a decision, I would have gone to jail or resigned,” Ambareesh said.

His criticism of the chief minister coincided with more violence by agitating farmers in the Mandya-Mysore belt. The bandh and indefinite fast call of the Cauvery River Protection Committee turned so violent that curfew had to be imposed in Mandya.

The agitating farmers went on a rampage and pelted stones at police who had to resort to a lathicharge and burst tear gas shells. The protesters also set fire to two jeeps of the revenue department.

An unspecified number of people were injured in the violence, police and district administration officials said.

Earlier, thousands of protesters came out on the streets defying prohibitory orders and heavy rain.

The police had a tough time as the protesters blocked roads and attacked all forms of transport. The Rapid Action Force had to be called in to contain the violence.

For the third successive day since the Krishna Cabinet decided to release water to Tamil Nadu, train and bus services remained suspended. Southern Railway announced cancellation of trains for tomorrow also.

In state capital Bangalore, too, protesters clashed with the police. There are indications that the Cauvery River Protection Committee is planning to extend the bandh to Bangalore tomorrow.

All this does not augur well for the chief minister. Ambareesh’s resignation is being seen by a large section of the Congress leadership in the state as the beginning of a rebellion against Krishna, who has virtually had a free run in the past two-and-a-half years.

Though Ambareesh himself is not considered to have enough political clout to launch a campaign against a veteran like Krishna, his resignation could be used by senior anti-Krishna leaders like former chief minister S. Bangarappa and former Union minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief. If they do, Krishna could find himself in a spot as he comes from Mandya, where the farmers’ agitation is the strongest.

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