BELAGAVI: A petty issue relating to elections of PLD Bank chiefs’ post in Belagavi which created bad blood between Jarkiholi brothers of Gokak and Belagavi rural MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar is posing a serious threat to coalition the government’s fate.
The politically influential brothers on Wednesday declared that their next political move will be announced after the PLD Bank’s election on September 7. The issue has snowballed into a major controversy in the state politics with the rift between the Jarkiholi brothers and Hebbalkar widening over the issue.
In what is seen as an embarrassment to the Jarkiholi brothers, the state High Court has ordered the holding of an election to the bank’s board of directors immediately. It may be noted that at the behest of the Jarkiholi brothers, the local authorities had allegedly put the PLD Bank elections on hold which forced Hebbalkar to stage an overnight dharna at the tahsildar’s office recently.
Sources close to the Jarkiholis told TNIE that the court’s decision is expected to further widen cracks between the groups as the Jarkiholis have taken the issue “extremely seriously”. As per the court’s order, the local authorities must hold the elections by September 7.
Minister D K Shivakumar’s support to Hebbalkar at a recent Congress party meeting in Bengaluru further irked the Jarkiholi brothers. According to sources, the Jarkiholis who enjoy the support of several MLAs from North-Karnataka may even quit the Congress to destabilise the government in wake of Shivakumar’s interference in Belagavi politics besides his open support to Hebbalkar.
Asked whether their rift with Hebbalkar would have an impact the coalition government, former minister Satish Jarkiholi said, “I cannot disclose anything now. We have to wait until September 7 (PLD Bank elections) to take a final call.’’
On the other hand, Hebbalkar chose to stay tight-lipped on the issue. She said in Belagavi on Wednesday that the Congress high command asked her not to comment on the issue until September 7. “I will speak to the media only after two days,’’ she added.
The issue involving the Jarkiholis, Hebbalkar and Shivakumar reached the Congress high command in New Delhi after the influential brothers threatened to destabilise the government two days ago. The party sources are, however, confident that the Jarkiholis would not destabilise the government.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar has rejected Ramesh Jarkiholi’s charge of interference in the affairs of Belagavi Congress.“I do not have a habit of poking my nose into the affairs of others. I am only doing what the party high command has asked me to,” Shivakumar said.
Financial deal cause for rift?
Hebbalkar and the Jarkiholi brothers have locked horns over elections to the posts of PLD Bank’s chairman and vice-chairman with the former claiming to have the support of nine out of the total 14 directors. The election, earlier slated for August 28, had been abruptly postponed by the tahsildar after a complaint was lodged at Kakati police station over the kidnap of one of the directors. This prompted Hebbalkar to stage a protest along with the directors loyal to her against the postponement of the elections. She also complained that it was a conspiracy by the Jarkiholi brothers.
The Dharwad bench of the High Court on Tuesday ruled that the election process should be completed by September 7. Sources close to Hebbalkar said money matters are the root cause of the issue. It is said that Hebbalkar had borrowed more than Rs 200 crore from three banks for her under-construction sugar mill and lent a part of the money to the Jarkiholi brothers to start their own factory in Maharashtra.
What caused the enmity between them is that the Jarkiholi brothers refused to return the money to Hebbalkar.