Hubballi: Congress leader Ramesh Jarkiholi, who has been unhappy with the party for some time, stayed away with most BJP legislators from the crucial meeting convened in Belagavi by water resources minister D K Shivakumar to discuss the severe drought and water crisis in northern Karnataka on Monday.
Officials from his Gokak Assembly constituency too did not attend the meeting, which discussed the release of water to Karnataka from Maharashtra’s Koyna dam among other issues. District in-charge minister, Satish Jarkiholi and Rajya Sabha member, Prabhakar Kore were present.
There have been protests in several parts of Belagavi, Bagalkot and Vijayapur districts in the Krishna river basin, with people setting tyres on fire and shouting slogans over the increasing water shortage in the region. At the meeting on Monday, Mr Shivakumar said the state had already pleaded with Maharashtra to immediately release water from the Koyna dam to north Karnataka. Warning farmers against using the available water for agriculture, he directed the officials to stop power supply to all irrigation pumpsets in the Krishna river basin as a precaution.
Seeing several legislators absent at the meeting, the minister said they would have come if they were interested in solving the region’s water problem. BJP legislators from Kudachi, Nippani, Hukkeri, Rayabag, Arabhavi, and Savadatti Assembly constituencies of Belagavi district stayed away from the meeting.
Meanwhile, Satish Jarkiholi said no more effort would be made to try to retain his brother, Ramesh in the Congress. “Ramesh was involved in anti-party activity even when he was minister. But no one told him to leave the party,” he added.