The Jarkiholi dilemma: Will the Congress give in to their demands or risk defection?

The sugar barons want plum posts for themselves. While one brothers wants to be made state Congress chief, the other wants a top ministerial berth.
The Jarkiholi dilemma: Will the Congress give in to their demands or risk defection?
The Jarkiholi dilemma: Will the Congress give in to their demands or risk defection?
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The political strongmen of Belagavi – the Jarkiholi brothers – Ramesh and Satish, are adamant about one thing, they want to be power centres in the coalition government in Karnataka. The brothers, notorious for shifting political allegiances have been miffed for months as after the Karnataka state Assembly elections, as they were sidelined.

Ramesh Jarkiholi, who portrayed himself as a Siddaramaiah loyalist, was offered only the Ministry of Municipalities. His brother, whom the party believed was the turncoat persuading the leaders to join the BJP in the run up to the resort hopping before the trust vote, was benched pending good behaviour.

Ramesh and Satish, who openly criticised each other during election campaigning, seem to have united – once again, to get what they want.

On Monday, the Jarkiholis communicated an ultimatum to the Congress leadership in the state, sending leaders into a frenzy. What seemed to be the last straw for the Jarkiholi brothers is what they considered a monumental defeat – the Primary Land Development elections. Their associate – Lakshmi Hebbalkar won the polls.

Ramesh Jarkiholi is believed to have met BJP’s Man Friday in Karnataka – B Sriramulu and discussed terms of defection, BJP sources say.

“Ramesh and Satish Jarkiholi have money. They own sugar factories and cooperative banks are important to them. This way they can ensure that people in their constituencies will sell sugarcane to them. Even when Siddaramaiah was in power, Ramesh was the sugar minister. Anything which is not pleasing to the sugar lobby is considered a threat and the Jarkiholis generally are the first ones to scout for better opportunities,” a Congress source said.

Congress insiders say that Ramesh and Satish have put forth certain demands before the party’s state leadership. That Satish Jarkiholi must be offered the post of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President.

“They also want to have a say in the upcoming cabinet expansion. Ramesh should be given a good ministerial portfolio. Meanwhile, they also want Satish to be made the KPCC President because it is an unspoken tradition that the KPCC President becomes the next CM if the party wins majority. Ramesh will then get a say in the most important decisions in the state,” the source added.

Meanwhile Yeddyurappa’s camp in the BJP, is gearing up to lure 15 Congress and JD(S) MLAs into its fold. Sources in the BJP say that although the high command has asked Yeddyurappa to focus his efforts on mobilising vote banks for the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, Yeddyurappa is unwilling to let go of the embarrassment he faced as two-day Chief Minister of the state.

“There is a list of 15 names. All of them are ready to defect with the right motivation. So far, the Jarkiholis also seem to be considering the BJP’s offer. Yeddyurappa wants to bring down the head count so he can once again become the CM. Stepping down after two days was very hurtful to him and he means to correct it,” the source added.

However, Ramesh Jarkiholi, who spoke to the media, said that there was no question of quitting the Congress. Party sources say that Ramesh is hoping for the party's high command to sort things out within a month. "He was in Siddaramaiah's camp. Now that Siddaramaiah is not there to oversee what is happening because he is vacationing, things are heating up. This was planned well in advance because Siddaramaiah's loyalists were sidelined after the elections," the Congress source said.

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