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Four in Karnataka House now, but a bitter sweet win for Jarkiholi brothers

Belonging to the Valmiki Nayak ST community, the Jarkiholi brothers have large investments in the sugar and liquor sector in north Karnataka and neighbouring Maharashtra and wield significant say in politics of the Belagavi region.

Written by Johnson T A | Belagavi |
Updated: December 23, 2021 11:44:45 am
Satish Jarkiholi, Lakhan Jarkiholi, Ramesh Jarkiholi and Balachandra Jarkiholi. (Photos: Twitter@Satish Jarkiholi, Lakhan Jarkiholi, Facebook@ Balachandra L Jarkiholi)

The victory of Lakhan Jarkiholi as an Independent in the recent Legislative Council polls means that the Karnataka Legislature now has four brothers from the Jarkiholi family. Lakhan, 50, the youngest of the five Jarkiholi brothers, was among the 25 new MLCs elected in Karnataka in the results announced on December 14.

Belonging to the Valmiki Nayak ST community, the Jarkiholi brothers have large investments in the sugar and liquor sector in north Karnataka and neighbouring Maharashtra and wield significant say in politics of the Belagavi region. Over the years, the family has spread its bets across parties, thus ensuring that at least one of them is part of the ruling dispensation in the state.

In the 2018 Assembly polls, while Ramesh, 61, and Satish, 59, were elected on Congress tickets, Balachandra, 55 and a former JD-S minister, won as a BJP nominee. Satish is now a working president in the Congress even as Ramesh crossed over to the BJP in 2019, one of the 10 MLAs whose defection helped the BJP come to power in the state. Ramesh was later made a minister, till he was forced to quit in March this year due to a sex CD scandal.

Lakhan’s victory though is bitter sweet for the family. The Jarkiholis expected his candidature to cause the defeat of the Congress’s Channaraj Hattiholli, the brother of Congress Belagavi MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar. However, Lakhan ended up defeating the BJP as well.

Hebbalkar is a friend-turned-foe of Ramesh Jarkiholi, and is now considered close to state Congress chief D K Shivakumar. The result might snuff out the hope of the Jarkiholis of the state BJP government reinducting Ramesh. The family believes the sex CD scandal was a conspiracy hatched by Congress and BJP leaders together.

While Hebbalkar attributed Lakhan’s win to Satish’s popularity, Lakhan said the result was the BJP’s own doing. “They tried a backdoor understanding with the Congress to defeat me.”

But if the ambition of the Jarkiholi brothers is thwarted, it might not be for long. Seen as ruthless towards rivals who cross their path in Belagavi, they were once accused of killing an excise inspector over an alleged dispute involving their father and liquor contracts. They were acquitted in the case.

In 2017, the Income Tax department conducted raids on premises and business entities at Gokak, Belagavi and Bengaluru belonging to Ramesh, a minister at the time in the then Congress government. IT officials claimed to have found undisclosed income of Rs 162.06 crore following the searches.

Both Ramesh and Satish are known to nurse ambitions of becoming CM, especially Satish, on the strength of their hold in Belagavi.

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