They are the undisputed leaders of the Congress in Belgaum, which sends 18 MLAs to the Karnataka Assembly. And like the Reddy brothers of Ballari, the Jarkiholi brothers — two of them Congress MLAs and one a BJP legislator — wield considerable influence in the district’s politics. But for the Congress, this time, they are a boon as well as a bane.
Two of the brothers, Congress MLAs Satish and Ramesh Jarkiholi, are said to be at the centre of the rebel trouble brewing for the party in Belgaum, the district which sends most members to the legislature after Bengaluru.
The Congress is leaving no stone unturned to win the maximum possible seats in Belgaum, where it had only six last time. And the party cannot do without the Jarkiholi brothers either, given their influence and resources. Sources said that in as many as five seats, rebel Congress leaders, who are contesting as Independents, have the blessings of either of the brothers.
In Saundatti Yellamma, a constituency in Belgaum, campaign vehicles of the rebel Congress leader, Anand Chopra, outnumber those of the official candidates of both the Congress and the BJP. The talk in the town square is that Chopra has an edge over Congress’s official nominee Vishwas Vasant Vaidya. The buzz in the party here is that Chopra has the backing of Ramesh Jarkiholi, eldest of the five siblings.
While it is known in the political circles that Satish and Ramesh Jarkiholi do not get along well, many in the Congress believe the fight between them is stage-managed. In the run-up to the polls, there was speculation that Satish was planning to leave the Congress. There was a buzz about him having met JD(S) chief and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy.
The trigger for the move was said to be Ramesh’s statement that Satish would have to vacate his seat — Yemkanmardi — to their fourth brother, Lakhan, and contest from Raichur this time.
The issue was settled, and Satish is now contesting from Yemkanmardi, hoping to register a third straight win. Ramesh is trying his luck from Gokak. The BJP has retained Balachandra Jarkiholi on Arabhavi seat, which he has won thrice since 2004. All three seats are in Belgaum district.
But the trouble for the Congress is the alleged blessings of Satish and Ramesh to many rebels in the region.
Congress leaders claim Ramesh is backing rebel candidate Babasaheb Patil in Kittur, which has put the official party candidate and sitting MLA D B Inamdar in a spot of bother in the constituency, and that a Youth Congress leader, who is contesting in Hukkeri seat, has the tacit support of Satish.
It is known that there is no love lost between senior Congress leader Laxmi Hebbalkar, who is the candidate from the Belgaum Rural seat, and Satish, and sources said that Manohar More, a rebel Congress candidate in Belgaum Rural, has Satish’s tacit support. The Congress has already expelled Chopra, More and Patil. But all three are in the fray and have the potential to mar the official candidate’s chances.
In Kudichi constituency, rebel candidate Suresh Talwar is said to have the support of Ramesh. Similar is the case in Raibag seat, where the rebel, Mahaveer Mohite, has the support of Satish.