BENGALURU: With every passing day, it is becoming clearer that the storm worked up from Belagavi in the Congress is a turf war between old guards —Jarkiholis — and their new challenger — D K Shivakumar. Highly placed sources in AICC claim that the crisis is the result of a personal ego tussle between its leaders that has snowballed into a controversy.
Analysts believe that Shivakumar’s attempts to establish his identity in the political bearings of Belagavi has started a fire that is threatening to burn the JD(S)-Congress coalition.
The dissent against Shivakumar’ intervention is now spilling from Belagavi to Ballari, whose District In-charge Minister is Shivakumar. Sources from the party suggest that MLAs of the district are unwilling to accept Shivakumar’s dominance over local matters. The change in guard, however, is not expected until the next cabinet expansion.
Shivakumar, who is also the Water Resources Minister, is in charge of all irrigation projects — most of them for North Karnataka.
For a man with Chief Ministerial ambitions, Shivakumar is pressed to go beyond Kanakapura and establish himself as a pan Karnataka leader. Party insiders believe that while the fight on the outside seemed like a battle between Lakshmi Hebbalkar and the Jarkiholis, the real force behind the former was Shivakumar.
“Nobody knows Shivakumar in North Karnataka but Lakshmi is recognised. Shivakumar backs candidates who don’t have a strong voice so he can reap the returns at the right time,” said Dr Harish Ramaswamy, political analyst and professor at Karnatak University, Dharwad.
While he is a prominent Vokkaliga leader, Shivakumar is required to establish a hold on voters of other communities as well. Reddy Vokkaligas of North Karnataka are landlords - the vote bank that Shivakumar is looking to capture. The minister himself has little to speak about the crisis - quite consciously.
“I don’t want to harm anyone nor have I harmed anyone before. People are free to do as it befits them and what makes them happy,” Shivakumar told The New Indian Express.
The Congressman has made no secrets of his ambition to become the Chief Minister. The Jarkiholis, analysts believe, are attempting to stall this Vokkaliga leader’s growth and counter his attempt to dominate by using Siddaramaiah’s name — a backward classes community leader.