BELAGAVI: In a triangular fight between three heavyweight candidates -- BJP’s Mahantesh Kavatagimath, Congress’ Channaraj Hattiholi and Independent candidate Lakhan Jarkiholi -- the Congress achieved a big victory in the dual seat Belagavi local bodies constituency of the MLC elections. Incumbent MLC Kavatagimath, who got the BJP ticket for the third time, failed to make it a hat-trick, and lost the second seat in a close battle.
With this victory, Lakhan became the fourth of the politically influential Jarkiholi brothers to become a legislator. While Hattiholi was elected first, getting 3,715 first preference votes out of 8,875 votes, Lakhan got 2,526 votes, and Kavatagimath got 2,454 votes. This is a big setback for the BJP, as it lost the election despite having 13 of 18 MLAs, and 3 MPs in Belagavi district.
Lakhan Jarkiholi was elected second candidate -- he got 2,526 first preference votes and 1,447 second preference votes -- while Kavatagimath got only 2,454 first preference and 1,143 second preference votes. The Congress and BJP had fielded one candidate each, for a safe victory. However, a fierce battle began when Lakhan, younger brother of Gokak BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi and Arabhavi BJP MLA Balachandra Jarkiholi, entered the fray.
The BJP showed a soft corner for Lakhan and focused on defeating the Congress. But the strategy seems to have backfired: A couple of days before the election, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had visited Belagavi and met the 13 BJP MLAs, and strictly instructed them to work for Kavatagimath. There was some confusion in the BJP as Ramesh Jarkiholi and other BJP MLAs openly campaigned for second preference votes for Lakhan, but this calculation went wrong. On the other hand, there were no differences in the Congress. They faced elections under the leadership of KPCC working president Satish Jarkiholi, while KPCC president DK Shivkumar and Opposition leader Siddaramaiah campaigned in a focused manner.
Satish Jarkiholi said, “As expected, we achieved victory and party workers worked collectively for it. CM Bommai tried to salvage the situation for the BJP candidate, but it didn’t work. This victory helped us organise the Congress, and we will come to power with a big win in 2023,” he said.