GOKAK: A master strategist who has played a key role in Congress’ victory in various Assembly elections, Satish Jarkiholi has carved himself a niche in state politics. After entering the political arena as a director of Belagavi District Central Cooperative Bank in 1992, he has gone on to win two Council and three Assembly elections.
A Congress candidate in the bypoll to Belgavi Lok Sabha seat, he enjoys mass support in the constituency. Ahead of polls on April 17, he told The New Indian Express that he is confident of bagging over seven lakh votes and winning against BJP’s Mangala Angadi, wife of former Minister of State for Railways late Suresh Angadi. Excerpts from an interview.
You always had bigger dreams in state politics. Did you enter the fray under pressure from party leadership?
Absolutely not. But everyone in the party has to abide by the decision taken by the high command and so did I. Congress fielded me because of my potential to face and win such big-ticket elections. If I was not interested in contesting the bypoll, I would not be busy preparing for it for the last two months.
What do you say about BJP fielding Mangala to garner sympathy votes?
Lok Sabha elections are decided on the issue of development. Other factors don’t take the centre stage. I have been in politics for more than 25 years and I have struggled to get developmental works done in various parts of the state. I want people to know that I am at their service.
How’s the response for your campaigning?
I found out that a large number of people are working in my favour. Most of the rallies have evoked tremendous response.
How do you think the dominant Lingayat community will vote this time?
The Jarkiholi family has a strong rapport with most of the communities in the constituency for the last two decades which is evident from the victories we have registered. I am sure voters, whether they are Lingayat or others, will rally behind me because of my performance. The caste factor never works in this constituency.
Your brothers, Balachandra and Ramesh (both BJP), have stayed away from campaigning. Will this help you?
I think it will certainly benefit me. The people in Arbhavi and Gokak constituencies -- represented by Balachandra and Ramesh -- vote for Jarkiholis and not the party.
What is your prediction?
I think I will get over 7 lakh votes and win the election. Around 12 lakh votes will definitely be cast in this election.