After Reddy brothers, it’s Jarkiholis But many Karnataka BJP leaders are upset by their rise

Bengaluru: Trouble is brewing for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the border town of Belagavi in Karnataka, which has divided the party leaders into camps. At the crux of this trouble is the growing assertion of the influential Jarkiholi family in the party, the outcome of the recently concluded legislative council elections, and the fight for a coveted spot in the state cabinet.More than a month after the legislative council poll results were declared, BJP leaders in Karnataka still speak in hushed tones about the party’s loss from Belagavi. Despite having 13 MLAs and two MPs from the state, the BJP’s candidate lost his incumbent seat. In the elections, the BJP secured 11 of the 25 legislative council seats, stopping one short of a clear majority in the house. Of the dual-member seatthat went to polls from Belagavi, the Congress won one, while the other was bagged by an independent candidate. This candidate was Lakhan Jarkiholi, the youngest of the Jarkiholi brothers, who contested as an Independent after being denied a ticket by the BJP. If the BJP’s claims of being a party that rejects family/dynasty politics and stands for ideological commitment is anything to go by, the Jarkiholi family is a contradiction. It continues to cautiously depend on the Jarkiholis in Belagavi, much to the dislike of many in the party.The Jarkiholi family of legislators is rich and wields immense political power in Belagavi district — similar to how the Reddy brothers (Gali Janardhana Reddy, G. Karunakara Reddy, G. Somashekhara Reddy and B. Sriramulu) wielded money and political power to become synonymous with Bellary for the BJP during the party’s first stint in governing Karnataka. While the Bellary brothers gained their fortunes from mining and alleged irregularities, the Jarkiholis are landlords and sugar barons.The Jarkiholis are five brothers — Ramesh and Balachandra are BJP MLAs, Satish is a Congress MLA and working president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), Lakhan is a recently elected independent member of the legislative council (MLC), and Bhimashi had dabbled in politics previously. All are key players in Belagavi politics — a district that makes up 18 of the 224 assembly constituencies in Karnataka.