BJP leader Ramesh Jarkiholi on Saturday sought to turn the tables of the sex scandal against his bete noire, Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar, in what was an all-out explosion of their political rivalry that seems to have gotten personal.
“Now, everybody knows who the Mahan Nayaka (great leader) is and what he’s done,” Ramesh told reporters, referring to the statement made by the family of a woman believed to be the victim of the sex scandal naming Shivakumar.
“There isn't any politician who is worse than DK Shivakumar. He’s criminal-minded,” Ramesh said. “I have 11 pieces of evidence that I will hand over to the Special Investigation Team (SIT),” he said, adding that he would file a formal complaint against Shivakumar.
Ramesh used a Kannada expletive against Shivakumar multiple times, referring to him in the singular. “(Shivakumar) is unfit for politics. No one should indulge in such conspiracy politics. There’s no forgiving him for this. It’s best if (Shivakumar) retires,” he said.
The BJP leader pointed out that Shivakumar had already admitted his links with Naresh Gowda, who is reportedly one of the accused in the scandal. “He has also admitted that the woman tried to meet him,” he said.
The bad blood between Ramesh and Shivakumar became public in 2018. Ramesh took exception to Shivakumar’s alleged interference with the affairs of Belagavi, Karnataka’s largest district where the Jarkiholis hold clout. Ramesh’s anger ultimately led to the fall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition. Also, when Ramesh was inducted into the BJP government, he insisted on the water resources portfolio that Shivakumar held as if to prove a point.
The sex scandal, which cost Ramesh his ministerial position, has taken the rivalry to another level.
“I will fight him next in Kanakapura,” Ramesh said, vowing to defeat Shivakumar in his turf. “I don’t fear him. I’m ready to join hands with anyone to defeat him in Kanakapura.”
Ramesh again asserted that he had not cheated the woman. “My family has never cheated any woman. We’d rather hang ourselves,” he said.
In all this, Ramesh pointed out that the woman belonged to an ST caste. Ramesh, too, belongs to the Valmiki ST community. “I thank the parents. If I’m wrong, let (police) kick me into jail, or the woman, or that Mahan Nayaka. It’s up to the authorities now,” Ramesh said.