Constituencies in Bombay-Karnataka to witness tough fights between turncoats in bypolls

The bypolls have widened the rift between the brothers with Ramesh accusing Satish Jarkiholi of trying to spoil Lakhan’s political future by fielding him from Congress.
Ramesh Jarkiholi (File photo | EPS)
Ramesh Jarkiholi (File photo | EPS)

BELAGAVI: Bombay-Karnataka region — the epicentre of the turmoil that toppled the Congress-JDS coalition government — will witness tough fights between turncoats in the bypolls. The BJP and Congress are neck-and-neck here, the state’s sugar bowl, with candidates on both sides in Gokak, Athani and Kagwad being popular and experienced campaigners.

However, Gokak is the constituency to watch out for as the clash between the two Jarkiholi brothers — Ramesh and Lakhan — is likely to go down to the wire. A prestige battle for both parties, Gokak will see Ramesh Jarkiholi (on a BJP ticket),  who recently spearheaded the rebels to topple the Kumaraswamy government, crossing swords with his youngest brother Lakhan Jarkiholi (Congress).

Sources said BJP leaders are under pressure to rally behind Ramesh as he has been projected as the future Deputy CM in Yediyurappa’s cabinet. This, according to BJP insiders, is to reward Ramesh as he toiled for 14 months to carry out Operation Lotus to help BJP form government in the state.

The bypolls have widened the rift between the brothers with Ramesh accusing Satish Jarkiholi of trying to spoil Lakhan’s political future by fielding him from Congress. Ramesh had previously won five elections in a row as a Congress candidate.

What makes Ramesh’s road to victory tough is that for the first time he is being opposed by his brothers who had firmly stood by him in the past. Also, a large section of BJP, especially in Gokak, is against Ramesh as his entry into the fray has deprived loyal party workers of B form.

BJP leader Ashok Pujari, who was a strong contender to fight from Gokak on a party ticket, may now work as a rebel, possibly with a tacit understanding with Congress. Also, Gokak voters are upset about Ramesh not being present in the constituency during the floods.

Ramesh along with other rebels was cooped up at a Mumbai hotel when the Krishna basin was facing floods. “Ramesh won previous polls because of the efforts put in by Satish and me. Since we are aware of the tricks of winning elections, my victory this time is certain,” Lakhan adds. Satish echoed a similar view.

Uphill task for Kumathalli, Shrimant

The switch-over of Congress loyalists Shrimant Patil and Mahesh Kumathalli, disqualified MLAs from Kagwad and Athani respectively, to BJP has put them in a tricky situation. A team headed by DyCM Laxman Savadi, which worked in the last election to defeat Kumathalli,  is expected to work for him now.  
Savadi is under pressure to ensure Kumathalli’s victory.

But Savadi may find it difficult to change his stance as several BJP leaders and voters in the constituency wanted him to contest. But Kumathalli is confident as he enjoys the support of Ramesh, who had stood by him in Athani during the last election and managed to defeat Savadi. After joining the rebels, Kumathalli had been out of Athani for almost a year. With a strong rival in the Congress, Kumathalli will have an Herculean task.

Congress is fielding four-time BJP MLA Raju Kage from Kagwad and Gajanan Mangsuli from Athani.
A sugar baron, Shrimant’s chances look bright given the strong links which he enjoys with those in the cooperative sector.

Shrimant had defeated Kage from Kagwad in the last election, but the political trend in the seat changed with his abrupt exit from the Congress. Top sources in Congress predict a close clash in Gokak but are confident the party will win both Kagwad and Athani by a good margin.

Hebbar favourite

Despite quitting Congress to join the rebels, Shivaram Hebbar still enjoys a handsome support from Yellapur voters. He faces almost no opposition from BJP leaders of the constituency.  The Congress hopes that people will defeat Hebbar for joining the rebels

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