Bengaluru: Congress leader and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah is in hot water over the ongoing Cauvery dispute.

It is difficult to get a sense of his predicament from a distance, where the chief minister’s failure to contain arson and violence in Bengaluru over the dispute is being highlighted.

Between seen as a leader being sensitive to the sentiments of the region and the one who is rapidly acting with an iron hand over protests, there is only a thin line, said a person, who is part of Siddaramaiah’s contingent.

Political analysts agree.

Also Read: Cauvery dispute: SC order sparks violence across Karnataka

Siddaramaiah has to strike a balancing act: between containing the fanaticism on the streets, and not to let the raging issue being mixed up with some sort of a local nationalist movement.

“It is undoubtedly a big challenge for Siddaramaiah," said Sandeep Shastri, political analyst and pro-vice chancellor of Jain University.

“He has to accept the court order, but at the same time has to maintain law and order. It is a tough call," said Shastri.

Meanwhile, the more Tamils getting attacked, the more the issue is becoming politicized, and the lesser are the chances for the statesman in Siddaramaiah to solve the issue, analysts said.

“Once you start demonizing the other, it vitiates the whole atmosphere, lessening the chances of a discussion or political resolution to the Cauvery issue," said Shastri.

But, the chief minister would have to make up his mind on releasing additional water as per the Supreme Court verdict on Monday .

“If he releases the water again, he is going to be in big trouble. If he doesn’t, the trouble is even bigger," said a cabinet minister, requesting anonymity.

For Siddaramaiah, all these couldn’t have come at a worse time. There’s a roughly a year left for the Assembly election. His carefully nurtured pro-farmer image was already at risk with a series of farmers’ suicides and drought last year.

Also Read: Where is Congress heading in Karnataka?

Add to it that the irrigation politics and the associated rural distress stories have always been a stable crop that delivered good harvest to the party in opposition in Karnataka politics throughout the years.

Worse, the legal battles over Cauvery is also supposed to have more developments in the immediate days to come, which would mean the issue is going to morph into a constant sword hanging over Siddaramaiah’s head at least for sometime, said analysts.

The apex court is supposed to deliver a final order on Cauvery waters’ dispute on 18 October.

Meanwhile, the apex court is supposed to hear a series of petitions challenging the previous Monday’s order, including one on next Tuesday—all of which could lead to potential protests.

In the last four weeks, four such protests have brought Bengaluru to its knees.

“Another bandh cannot be held without enormous organizational strength or without the support of the state government. There will be a huge loss of support (for the CM), if he supports or opposes the bandh. But my impression is that they may slowly act tougher, not just watch it," said Narendra Pani, a political analyst and professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies.

“The ball is on Siddaramaiah’s court now," he said.