BENGALURU: Though Belagavi Rural Congress MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar’s visit to former CM BS Yediyurappa’s residence here on Wednesday looked like just a courtesy call, it could be part of a larger plan, as she wants to emerge as a strong Veerashaiva Lingayat leader in North Karnataka.
That she took along her son Mrinal to seek the blessings of the ‘undisputed leader’ of the community, on account of ‘Guru Poornima’, is a statement that Mrinal has been nursing dreams of entering politics by contesting the Belagavi Lok Sabha seat in 2024. The reason could also be that Congress candidate Sathish Jarkiholi lost the bypolls by a whisker to Mangala Angadi, raising hopes that Congress could win the seat. Since Sathish will not be contesting in 2024, Laxmi is grooming her son, sources said.
Laxmi’s younger brother Channaraj Hattiholi won the 2021 MLC polls from local bodies of Belagavi, catapulting her to kingmaker in the district. Meanwhile, Congress leader Prakash Hukkeri won the North West Teachers’ MLC seat, indicating a wave of change.
The Hebbalkars, who are close to KPCC president DK Shivakumar, want to claim the space and grow into community leaders, for which they need Yediyurappa’s blessings, say experts. Laxmi has already proved herself a master striker, as it was with her help that Nagaraj Yadav was nominated MLC. She wants to develop her own coterie and has been lobbying for the MLA ticket for Nagaraj Chebbi from Kalaghatgi, it is said.
Meanwhile, Mrinal’s brother-in-law, Rajath Ullagaddimath, a block Congress president, is also eyeing Hubballi-Dharwad Central seat to contest against former CM Jagadish Shettar. “It was a courtesy call as he is our community’s veteran leader. No politics was discussed but we discussed the 2A tag for Panchamasalis, which got delayed owing to technical reasons,” she said.