The loaded and politically influential Jarkiholi brothers of Karnataka’s Belagavi have been feuding ever since Satish Jarkiholi was replaced by his brother Ramesh Jarkiholi as a cabinet Minister.
The Congress leaders have been at loggerheads ever since. With the elections approaching, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has taken up the task of reuniting the brothers.
On Thursday, during the Valmiki Jayanti celebrations at Bengaluru’s Vidhana Soudha, the Chief Minister made Ramesh and Satish Jarkiholi shake hands while asking them to bury past differences.
Satish Jarkiholi, who was a confidant of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, resigned from his ministerial post of Small Scales Industries and Excise in 2015. His brother, Ramesh Jarkiholi was given the berth instead in 2016.
A miffed Satish Jarkiholi, in May this year, was mulling over quitting the party and exploring other avenues, party sources say.
“Satish Jarkiholi’s exit from the cabinet was attributed to his disagreement with CM Siddaramaiah over his work towards the upliftment of Valmiki (ST) community being sidelined,” a senior party leader said.
During his tenure as a minister, Satish Jarkiholi had claimed that he was responsible for uniting the SC and ST communities in North Karnataka, roping in this vote bank for the Congress.
The feud blew up when Ramesh Jarkiholi and his sister Lakshmi Hebbalkar offered their support to their brother Lakhan Jarkiholi to contest from the Yamakanamardi constituency in the 2018 polls, which is currently being represented by Satish in March this year.
However, Satish offered to support Lakhan and said that he must contest from the Gokak constituency, which has been a stronghold of Ramesh Jarkiholi.
With the brothers and sister feuding over constituencies in public, the Congress leaders in Karnataka intervened.
On May 23, the Jarkiholi brothers met Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi, where attempts at reconciliation failed.
In the run-up to the elections, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has now taken it upon himself to unite the leaders in order to mobilise votes in Belagavi.
“He just wants the leaders to come together in order to ensure that the party wins in the upcoming elections,” the senior leader added.
Who are the Jarkiholi brothers?
No matter which party has been in power, the Jarkiholi brothers — known as the sugar barons of Belagavi — have ruled the roost in the district for over two decades.
The family members contest from different political parties during the polls and ensure that one of them grabs a ministerial post.
The brothers, who began their career as arrack contractors, rose to become one of the most powerful families in the district and went on to control its sugar production. The family holds three of Belagavi’s largest sugar factories and the construction of another one is underway.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, a four-time member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, represents the Gokak constituency, which has been ruled by his family for over 15 years. His brothers, Balachandra and Satish represent the Arabhavi and Yamakanamaradi constituencies in Belagavi as well.
Ramesh was first elected as an MLA in 1999 through a Janata Dal (United) seat in Gokak and since 2004, has contested the polls as a member of the Congress party.