Signalling that they are keen to take the brewing discontent in the Karnataka Congress to the central leadership ahead of the Cabinet expansion, Minister for Municipalities and Urban Local Bodies Ramesh Jarkiholi on Wednesday met Congress leader in the Lok Sabha M. Mallikarjun Kharge.
Not satisfied by the attempts made by State Congress leaders Dinesh Gundu Rao and G. Parameshwara, whom Ramesh Jarkiholi met on Tuesday to sort out differences in their home turf, Belagavi, he sought the intervention of Kharge.
Describing Kharge as their “father figure”, Ramesh Jarkiholi said they (he and his brother Satish Jarkiholi, both powerful leaders from Belagavi) would abide by the directions of the party veteran and there was “no question of harming the party’s interests”. He also admitted there were differences and that they would be sorted out with the party leaders.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kharge expressed confidence that Jarkiholi brothers “would not take any drastic step as being speculated”. Accusing the BJP of trying to take disadvantage of the discontent in the party, Kharge said the saffron party was “daydreaming”.
While the issue of Jarkiholi brothers has proved thorny to the Congress, the party is hoping that the return of chairman of the coordination committee Siddaramaiah from Europe trip would help set the house in order.
The brothers are known to be close to Siddaramaiah and the rebellion by brothers in his absence has added grist to the rumour mills. Satish Jarkiholi is credited with ensuring Siddaramaiah’s victory in Badami. While sources said that the brothers were in touch with Siddaramaiah, who has told them not to take any “drastic decision” before his return, Ramesh Jarkiholi has denied it.
The present crisis is also seeing consolidation of the Naik community to which the Jarkiholis belong. A group of legislators belonging to the community have said that when it comes to the question of “protecting the interests of the community”, they would be together. Interestingly, there is a marriage alliance in the offing between the daughter of BJP leader B. Sriramulu, also of the community, and Mr. Ramesh Jarkiholi’s son.
The current turmoil in the Congress began as a clash over elections to the board of a local bank in Belagavi district between Jarkiholi brothers and KPCC Women’s Wing president Laxmi Hebbalkar. It has since then escalated, with the brothers laying down conditions before the Cabinet expansion and rumours floating around that they, along with their supporters, would cross over to the BJP if the conditions are not met.