Belagavi PLD Bank’s D-day keeps Karnataka Congress on tenterhooks

Analysts believe that the party will succumb to pressure from the Jarkiholi brothers keeping in mind the Lok Sabha polls.

Published: 07th September 2018 05:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2018 11:17 AM   |  A+A-

Belagavi rural MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The all-powerful sugar lobbies of Belagavi that have kept political parties fueled are now giving nightmares to the Congress with two powerful sugar lords wrestling each other. The election to the post of Chairman and Vice Chairman of Primary Land Development Bank in Belagavi has turned into a nail-biter for the Congress with its own minister Ramesh Jarkiholi threatening “radical decision” stopping short of spelling out what awaits the Congress if the results don’t favour his brother.

With eight MLAs, including Laxmi Hebbalkar, despite a stronghold of the BJP, Belagavi is a district that the Congress cannot afford to let loose in the Lok Sabha elections. With the mighty Jarkiholi brothers displaying public unity like never before in their war against State Mahila Morcha Chief and MLA Hebbalkar, the party is in a fix.

It is not without a reason that an election to a bank is keeping the Congress on tenterhooks. Despite attempting to brush it off as a “minor” incident, Congress senior leaders, including those in Delhi, have been constantly attempting to pacify both parties. Analysts believe that the party will succumb to pressure from the Jarkiholi brothers keeping in mind the Lok Sabha polls.

READ HERE: Jarkiholi brothers declare all-out war on Hebbalkar, warn of harsh decision
 

“Politics in Belagavi is run by powerful families. If one leader moves out, there will be an exodus of leaders who will follow. The Jarkiholis have money, caste, control of financial institutions, sugar lobbies apart from political sway,” says Dr Harish Ramaswamy, political analyst and professor at Karnatak University, Dharwad.

While Satish is already miffed with the party for not being inducted into the cabinet, party sources reveal that Minister for Municipal Administration Ramesh is unhappy with his portfolio. The rift with Hebbalkar and D K Shivakumar’s interference in the matter has only become a trigger for the brothers to express their displeasure in public.

ALSO READ: Siddaramaiah told to resolve Belagavi Congress mess

For the Congress that has already lost much of its Scheduled Tribe (ST) voters to the BJP, losing the support of the Jarkiholi brothers will mean absolute rejection by the community, according to analysts. The hold that Jarkiholi family has over Belagavi politics cannot be taken lightly as well, especially at a time when the party is attempting to thwart BJP’s growing support in the region. The closeness that Satish shares with Siddaramaiah is no secret in the Congress. If Satish chooses to walk out, the party fears losing the support of MLAs loyal to the former CM.

Ramesh has claimed that the brothers have the support of 12 MLAs- a number just enough to topple the government. With Siddaramaiah’s backing, if any, the number is sure to shoot up by another dozen. Analysts also believe that if the brothers withdraw support to the Congress, the party will have not just have ST votes to worry about but also Kuruba and OBCs, especially in Bombay-Karnataka.

READ HERE: Worsening fight between Jarkiholi brothers and MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar poses threat to coalition

Despite being warned by the party high command not to wash dirty linen in public, the fight between Hebbalkar and Jarkiholis reached a crescendo on Thursday with Ramesh issuing an ultimatum. Ramesh minced no words in attacking Hebbalkar after she is alleged to have shifted out directors of the PLD bank.  

Congress continues to downplay the rift. “PLD bank polls have nothing to do with the party or government. There is no rift. I will speak with the district minister,” said KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao.



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