Belgaum: The coming elections are crucial for the influential Jarkiholi and Katti families of Belgaum which have had a stranglehold on its major local bodies, sugar factories and cooperative unions for the last decade. While three Jarkiholi brothers are sitting MLAs , one member of the Katti family is an MLA and another an MP.
Brothers and MLAs, Satish Jarkiholi (Yamkanmardi), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak) and Balachandra Jarkiholi (Arbhavi) have emerged as the most popular politicians of the district over the last decade, winning all the assembly polls they have contested so far.
As both families have strong links with senior leaders of the BJP, Congress and JDS they manage to get weaker candidates fielded against them in their respective constituencies in every assembly election. The Katti family reportedly has the support of influential leaders like Prabhakar Kore, Mahantesh Kavatgimath and a host of MLAs and MLCs from various parties and the Jarkiholi family too has its share of support across parties.
With both families vie for the post of Belgaum district in-charge minister , it has often gone to Umesh Katti. After the 2008 elections, both Balachandra Jarkiholi and Umesh Katti were at loggerheads over this important post, but the latter succeeded in getting it. “Both may not be a part of the ruling party this time, but they would want the post to go to their close friends in the Congress if it comes to power,'' says a friend of Balachandra Jarkiholi.
With Belgaum having been in the forefront of the cooperative movement since pre-Independence , the families have fought to gain control of the cooperative banks as well in the district over the years. Balachandra Jarkiholi worked hard to defeat the Katti group in the elections to the District Cooperative Credit Bank (DCC) a few years ago and succeeded.