Bengaluru: Gokak may be famous for its falls and textile mills, but it is also equally well known for its feuding political families. It was in the eighties that a feud broke out between the Karnings and Jarkiholis, which ended in 1995 with the police firing that claimed 13 lives.
Taking over from his father, Laxmanrao Jarkiholi, the present forest minister in the state government, Sathish Jarkiholi, built a political empire in Gokak. A close associate of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, he grew in stature as a leader of the Valmiki community and was instrumental in giving the political careers of two of his brothers, Ramesh and Balachandra a boost.
But things have drastically changed since. While Mr Balachandra Jarkiholi is now with the BJP, Mr Ramesh Jarkiholi is threatening to quit the Congress and bring down the coalition government. Seemingly unfazed, Mr Sathish Jarkiholi is planning to pitch one more brother, Lakhan against him.
Speaking to the Deccan Chronicle, he said Mr Ramesh Jarkiholi overrated himself and his leaving the Congress would in no way threaten the government. Maintaining that he was not a serious politician, he said he was merely a product of the SC/ST and minority votebank and the Jarkiholi brand. Excerpts from the interview:
You are at loggerheads with your brother, Ramesh. Are there any outside factors responsible for the feud?
There is nothing like that, there are no outsiders behind this. Ramesh is himself the cause of all the problems . He is unpredictable in his behaviour. But that's nothing new. He once accused D K Shivakumar and later Lakshmi Hebbalkar. At times, he accuses me too. There is no one behind him, he is a one- man army.
You have been managing Gokak's politics for a long time. Do you feel that such bickering will affect your political future?
I don't think it will affect it in any way. Besides, this is not a family feud, but a political battle. We have to fight the elections on our party lines and protect and build it. So far, we have left it to Ramesh to manage the party's affairs in Gokak. But now, if he is going to another party, we cannot support him and will look for someone else.
But you have a dual role as a community and party leader in Belagavi. So could your own brother revolting against affect your leadership?
No, those who have been closely associated with Ramesh know that he is not a serious politician. In difficult situations he disappears . So no one in the district takes him seriously. There are two reasons why he was elected. The first is the SC/ST and minority votebank in Gokak and second, the Jarkiholi brand. But he does not realise this and takes everything for granted. His exit will not make much of a difference as he is not known all that much outside Belagavi and is not a popular leader either in the district. So, we will not take it seriously.
The BJP, however, claims that Mr Ramesh's resignation will bring down the coalition government.
The BJP has been saying this for the last one year, but nothing has happened. Ramesh has been with them for the last one year and is present at every meeting. He even went to Mumbai and came back, but they are not getting the numbers they need. As usual they are going to drop it.
You have known for sometime that your brother was planning to quit the party. Did you try to stop him?
I realised that he had gone too far and had reached the point of no return. He has hidden agendas and is not discussing them with anyone.
There is no point in discussing things with such people and wasting time. We need to plan for the future too....