The powerful Jarkiholi brothers, who recently faced a setback in a local cooperative bank elections in Belagavi, are learnt to have on Monday threatened to quit the Congress if their demands are not fulfilled.
According to sources in the Congress, Municipalities Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi and his MLA brother Satish Jarkiholi have given the party one month’s time to meet their demands. Their main demands include making Satish the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and the brothers getting to decide who should be made ministers when the next round of Cabinet expansion takes place.
The Jarkiholi brothers had locked horns with party MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar in Belagavi over the elections to Primary Land Development Bank. Hebbalkar’s group emerged victorious in the elections. The brothers are now said to be determined to strengthen their hold in Belagavi by mounting pressure on the party to meet their demands.
Rumours were also rife that Ramesh met BJP leader B Sreeramulu and held talks. Ramesh, who is the Belagavi district in-charge minister, camped in Bengaluru on a day when the party had asked its leaders to oversee Bharat Bandh.
Amid these developments, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara postponed his visit to San Francisco. He was slated to leave on Tuesday morning. The Congress fears that if the Jarakiholi brothers quit, their allegiant MLAs — about 6-7 of them — could follow suit. Not just that, the party is afraid that the brothers may persuade other disgruntled groups within the party to quit, which could threaten the very survival of the Congress-JD(S) coalition.
Ramesh expressed confidence that everything would be sorted out once Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah returns from his overseas trip. “We hope everything gets settled in a month’s time,” he said. Asked about them quitting, he said: “The question doesn’t arise. We are in the Congress and will remain in the Congress.”
On the other side of the fence, the BJP is hopeful that at least 15 Congress MLAs will quit so that the total strength of the House comes down, enabling the saffron party to stake claim at forming the government. The Cong-JD(S) coalition has 118 MLAs, whereas the BJP has 104.