January 13 

Congress called off its 11-day long padayatra in the light of the rising number of Covid cases in the State and after the High Court on Wednesday had rapped both the State government and the Congress. The State on Thursday recorded more than 25,000 new cases in the previous 24 hours.

“We are not stopping this journey, just postponing it. Next, we will start from Ramanagaram. It’s just a temporary break,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President DK Shivakumar said.

The party leaders criticised the government’s actions on various accounts asking if the government has a commitment to justice and law for all, why has there been no action against ruling BJP leaders who flouted Covid norms.

Leader of Opposition in assembly Siddaramaiah, said, “The Congress is not responsible for the spread of infection; it is the BJP which is clearly responsible. The CM did not stop his meetings even after the third wave started.”

Congress kickstarted the padayatra on 9 January demanding the immediate implementation of the Mekedatu project which involves the construction of a balancing reservoir on Cauvery river at a cost of ₹9000 crore. Neighbouring Tamil Nadu has objected to the project and several cases related to it are pending before the Cauvery Water Tribunal, National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court.

The protest also came to a halt after the High Court’s observations.

On Wednesday, the high court questioned the State government as to why the padayatra has been allowed to continue despite the Covid restrictions placed in the State, and why no action has been taken on this matter.

Congress’s decision to halt its protest also comes after the local unit of the party received directions to that effect from AICC headquarters.

Senior AICC leaders are said to have spoken to Shivakumar and advised him to stop the padayatra in light of the mounting cases in the State.

Karnataka Health and Education Minister Dr.K.Sudhakar said that the government constantly tried to persuade Congress to stop padayatra.

“We handled this situation in a very matured manner without the use of force like lathicharge or arrest. Padayatra has indeed led to surge in cases and Congress is responsible for this,” he claimed.

Another reason for calling off the protest is said to have been that several senior Congress leaders such as former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily and former Minister H.M. Revanna, Mallikarjuna Kharge and others, who had participated in the padayatra, tested Covid positive.

Congress leaders asserted that as soon as the third wave subsides, they will relaunch the padayatra. 

(Additional inputs by BL Intern Isha Rautela)