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Jarkiholi brothers crossing swords raises poll pitch in Gokak


Press Trust of India Bengaluru
It's a clash between the Jarkiholi brothers in bypoll-bound Gokak assembly constituency, where some local political leaders say the electoral battle is likely to go down to the wire, with the stakes being high.
The bypoll to the seat in Belagavi district was necessitated following the resignation and subsequent disqualification of Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, after he rallied the rebels to topple the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in the state.
While Ramesh Jarkiholi is now contesting the bypolls on a BJP ticket, his youngest brother Lakhan Jarkiholi is his opponent as a Congress nominee.
The battle for Gokak has also drawn the battle lines within the family, as their other brothers- Congress MLA from Yemkanmardi Satish Jarkiholi and Arabhavi BJP MLA Balachandra Jarkiholi, supporting their siblings who are candidates from their respective parties.
Satish had engaged in a long drawn verbal battle publicly in the last few months with Ramesh over the latter's decision to quit Congress and giving prominence to his brothers-in-law Appirao Patil, Ambirao Patil and Shankar Patil in local politics.
Some local leaders say that in furtherance of his ongoing battle with his older brother Ramesh, Satish went out of his way to ensure Lakhan got a Congress ticket.
The local leaders, who have been witness to Jarkiholi brothers' political dominance in Belagavi district, say that Ramesh, who has represented Gokak five times in the assembly, is facing a "tough battle" as his younger brother Lakhan, who had been his "backbone" in the previous election campaigns and victories, is now his opponent candidate.
"Lakhan has been by his (Ramesh) side in all the previous elections as support.Now it remains to be seen how things go.
Being in same party (Congress) Satish too had not worked against Ramesh electorally in elections so far, but this time the scene is different," an associate of the Jarkiholis' said.
However, in a surprise development, Bhimshi, the other among the the five Jarkiholi brothers, is siding with Ramesh in this bypoll, signalling a possible end to a long-drawn political rivalry.
Interestingly, Bhimshi had contested the 2008 assembly election as a BJP candidate from Gokak against Ramesh and had been defeated.
Sons of businessman Laxmanrao Jarkiholi- Ramesh (eldest), followed by Satish, Balachandra, Bhimshi and Lakhan (youngest) belong to the Nayaka/Valmiki community under the Scheduled Tribes.
Many local leaders see the political diversity in the family, also as a "calculated move", as it ensures at least one of them finds a place in the government of the day.
While Yediyurappa and his cabinet have thrown its weight behind Ramesh to ensure his victory, Lakhan enjoys the support and confidence of Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, considering Satish's closeness to him for long.
If Ramesh manages to retain the seat, it will be the first ever win for BJP in Gokak.
However, he also faces Ashok Pujari, a BJP rebel turned JD(S) candidate.
JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has put his weight behind Pujari to defeat Ramesh, who played a key role in the collapse of his coalition government.
Sources said BJP also fears reduction in votes that it may get from the dominant Veerashaiva-Lingayat community,seen as the strong vote bank of the party, as Pujari hails from the community, while its candidate Ramesh belongs to ST community.
Fifteen of the 17 constituencies represented by the disqualified legislators, including Ramesh, who played a key role in the collapse of the coalition government and paved way for BJP to come to power, will go for bypolls on December 5.
Counting of votes will take place on December 9.
The Supreme Court recently allowed the disqualified legislators to contest the bypolls, while upholding the then Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar's decision to disqualify them.
With winning a majority seats being crucial for the government's survival, BJP has fielded 13 of the 16 disqualified legislators, including Ramesh, who joined the party, as its candidates from their respective constituencies.
There are speculations within BJP circles that Ramesh may be made Deputy Chief Minister in the Yediyurappa cabinet on his election.

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First Published: Nov 29 2019 | 6:00 PM IST

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