The Mekedatu padayatra planned for 10 days, demanding speedy implementation of Mekedatu project by the ruling BJP in the state, has finally been called off. The decision was taken as the controversial padayatra entered its fifth day of protest march despite strict curfew and other restrictions in the state.

Karnataka has been witnessing a record spike in COVID-19 cases. As many as 15,617 new Covid cases have been reported on Wednesday in Bengaluru alone taking the tally of active cases to 73,654. The Mekedatu padayatra witnessed thousands of people participating, all while flouting basic COVID guidelines. As a result, Karnataka Congress came under heavy fire and even faced legal ramifications for carrying out a protest march on such a scale.

Karnataka Congress finally calls off Mekedatu padayatra; come to consensus after 5 days [details]
Karnataka Congress finally calls off Mekedatu padayatra; come to consensus after 5 days [details]IANS

Congress calls off padayatra

Karnataka Congress on Thursday decided to call off the Mekedatu padayatra after five leaders tested positive for COVID-19, including Mallikarjun kharge, Veerappa Moily, HM Revanna, CM Ibrahim, & Shivashankar Reddy. Sources have revealed that the decision to pause the protest march was taken after a call from Rahul Gandhi.

"We have been successful in the last five days. We were supposed to end the padayatra in Bengaluru. Because of the third wave we have to postpone it for now," former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was quoted as saying.

High-octane drama

DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah

The Karnataka government on Thursday began a crackdown on the Congress leaders participating in the Mekedatu padayatra. The authorities served notice to state Congress President D.K. Shivakumar asking him not to take part in the padayatra. The notice warns that if he violates the provisions of the Natural Disaster Management Act (NDMA), then action will be taken. The Ramanagar Rural police have booked FIRs against 60 leaders, including Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah, D.K. Suresh and other senior Congress leaders for violating curfew orders.

Sources said the state government has given a green signal to the police department to not allow the padayatra on Thursday, and if there is any resistance, directions have been issued to arrest the leaders.