The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani salve after Sonia snub

New Delhi, June 24: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani has come to Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s rescue after Sonia Gandhi last week refused to entertain his plea to restrain her party in his state and the Congress-led government in neighbouring Karnataka over another inter-state river water row.

After a meeting this afternoon with an all-party delegation from Karnataka headed by chief minister S.M. Krishna, Advani gave temporary respite to Naidu from an aggressive Congress Opposition in Andhra by deciding to review all contentious inter-state river water projects.

The review meeting on Friday will be held by senior officials of the Central Water Commission and representatives from the two states would be present to make their cases.

Naidu was pushed on the back-foot by the Congress with the charge that his government had compromised the interests of the state’s farmers by not doing anything about Karnataka’s Paragodu barrage across the Chitravati.

As the Congress campaign gathered momentum last week, Naidu made a political move to silence it by knocking on Sonia’s door. He believed only Sonia could effectively intervene on behalf of the state’s farmers as her party was in power in Karnataka.

The Telugu Desam Party chief was aiming to kill two birds with one stone — to take the steam out of the state Congress campaign while putting the Krishna government in a spot. However, Sonia foiled his game plan when she did not meet him.

But Advani’s intervention has given Naidu breathing space. The Andhra government will now have a chance to back its claim that the Paragodu project was not just for drinking water purposes, but also for irrigation. If his government can substantiate its claim, Naidu might emerge a winner. On the flip side, several Andhra river projects which Karnataka claims lack necessary Central clearance will also come under the scanner.

The Karnataka delegation also met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and submitted a memorandum on the Paragodu project. The Krishna mission to the capital came as a counter to the Naidu mission here on Saturday. The Naidu-led all-party delegation had met the Prime Minister to put forward the state’s case.

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