'They are blaming Shivakumar unnecessarily'

Laxmi Hebbalkar claims Jarkiholis asked favours, but she declined

A first-time MLA, Laxmi R Hebbalkar, 43, registered a thumping victory from the Belgaum Rural constituency in the recently held Assembly polls. The state Women’s Congress president, however, finds herself in a bitter feud with the powerful Jarkiholi brothers in Belagavi district, which has created political ripples across Karnataka. She spoke to Bharath Joshi of DH about the feud, accusing the Jarkiholis of undermining her:

Differences between you and the Jarkiholis seem to have soared since your election as MLA.

It’s just that the Jarkiholis feel my popularity has increased and they are not able to digest that. They asked for some favours, which I declined in the interest of the party. I can’t reveal what favours they asked of me, but I have told the party high command about it. Angered that I did not oblige, they are targetting me.

How are they targetting you?

During the election, they conspired to defeat me. They financed a Zilla Panchayat member to work against me. They openly campaigned against me. After the election, they are troubling me at every step, even in my constituency. During his term as a minister in the previous government, Ramesh Jarkiholi did not speak a word about his constituency or Belagavi’s development. In the last four months, he hasn’t convened a single meeting to discuss rain-induced calamity in the district. Instead, he is spending time fully to disturb me. In a recent meeting, he threatened PDOs with suspension if they carry out my constituency works.

It is said that your clout is growing in Belagavi with the help of D K Shivakumar.

As a party loyalist and as a legislator, I know my limits. I want to work for my constituency. My only request to the Jarkiholis was not to trouble me when it comes to my constituency. Contrary to whatever they are claiming, the truth is that everything in Belagavi is decided by them. They use, or misuse, every department.

What about Shivakumar?

Whenever there was a crisis, Shivakumar helped the party - be it Gujarat or when the then Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh needed help. They’re blaming Shivakumar unnecessarily.

The fallout of this is that the Jarkiholi brothers have placed some demands before the party.

The Congress will not listen to such demands, even if they come from the Jarkiholis, me or anybody else. Blackmail won’t work. The party high command is wise.

If at all the party accedes, do you fear you could be undermined?

One thing I have learnt in politics is not to fear, especially when your constituency people are with you. I have faced many challenges in life.

What is the way forward?

Something is fishy (with the Jarkiholis) and they are just diverting attention with their demands. The brothers continue to make public statements despite strict instructions by the party. This only shows that they have no fear of the party high command. They ask for Cabinet berths, party president posts and so on. So many conditions, that too in front of the Congress high command.


DK Shivakumar says Ramesh Jarkiholi is my 'best friend'

Amid tension, Jarkiholi brothers look to garner support​

Miffed Jarkiholi brothers threaten to quit Congress​

Khandre mediates peace between Jarkiholis, Hebbalkar​


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