Even as dissidence brews over the allocation of Congress tickets in Belagavi, AICC secretary and MLA from Yemkanmardi constituency Satish Jarkiholi said that the party is confident of winning 10 of the 18 seats. He told Akram Mohammed of The New Indian Express that BJP president Amit Shah's rallies will not have any effect and added that the differences between him and KPCC Women's Wing president Lakshmi Hebbalkar have been ironed out 'in the party's interests'.
What do you think are the prospects for your party in Belagavi, which has the highest number of constituencies outside Bengaluru?
Congress is 100 per cent prepared to fight the polls and there are no problems stopping us from winning. In Belagavi, we had won six seats in 2013. This time we have set a target to win 10.
Haven't you set a high target, considering the infighting within the Congress here?
Some of the constituencies where infighting is being reported are not among the 10 seats we are targeting. In some constituencies we are weak and cannot win. Yet, we are trying to secure more votes in those segments. We are working together to win the Assembly polls in the district.
Won't the differences between you and KPCC Women's Wing president Lakshmi Hebbalkar affect Congress in the coming elections?
Differences are there everywhere. However, when elections approach we are bound to work together. There are differences in some other districts too. However, we have to work together in the interests of the party.
According to political circles, JD(S) candidate of Belagavi Rural against Lakshmi - Shivanagouda Patil - is indirectly backed by Jarkiholi family.
No, it is not true that our family is backing Patil. Patil is 'old Congress' and had been with the party for 40 years. There was a clash between Patil and Belagavi Rural Congress leaders due to various issues, such as APMC elections. Therefore, there is no connection between us and Patil leaving the party and contesting from JD(S). It is his independent decision. He is an influential leader in the constituency.
BJP state president Amit Shah campaigned in your brother Ramesh Jarkiholi's constituency. Do you think the BJP is sensing an opportunity and can win the segment?
Amit Shah attending rallies here will not make a big difference. He comes and goes. Results will depend on how we have worked in the constituency and the relationship we have with voters.
How is the situation in Congress following the release of first list?
There are disputes between candidates over seat allocation and this needs to be settled. We have time till April 24. If we can deal with the differences here, we will sort it out. Or else, leaders in the High Command will take a call.
After you were dropped from the cabinet, there were rumours of a rift between you and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
I was not dropped from the cabinet. I decided to resign as I could not continue as a minister and I had other responsibilities. So, there is no question of differences between me and Siddaramaiah.