Small bank, big fight: Laxmi Hebbalkar, Jarkiholis rift worries Congress

Elections postponed following complaint of bank director's kidnapping.

Hubballi: With the rift between the Jarkiholi brothers and Karnataka Congress women wing president, Laxmi Hebbalkar over elections for the posts of PLD bank chairman and vice-chairman deepening in Belagavi, it’s feared the rumbles may be felt in Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru.

The election, which was slated for August 28, was abruptly postponed by the tahaslidar, who is also the returning officer, after a complaint was lodged with the Kakati police station that one of the bank’s directors had been kidnapped. Ms Hebbalkar, who claims to have the support of nine of the bank’s 14 directors, promptly staged a protest against the postponement of the elections and claimed the Jarkiholi brothers were conspiring to create trouble ahead of them.

As the controversy threatened to snowball, the Dharwad High Court bench on Tuesday ruled that the election process should be completed by September 7.
But this has not put an end to the infighting among the Congress leaders as municipal administration minister, Ramesh Jarkiholi, has publicly warned energy minister, D K Shivakumar against backing Ms Hebbalkar and interfering in the Congress’ affairs in Belagavi.

“Minister Shivakumar should not interfere in the district Congress. Neither should he meddle in the party’s affairs in Belagavi and nor should I poke my nose in its affairs in Bengaluru. We will give a befitting reply if he does,” Mr Ramesh Jarkiholi warned.

The fight between the two influential ministers is said to have reached the ears of the Congress high command, which reportedly reined in Ms Hebbalkar after the Jarkiholis threatened to destabilise the government if it did not .

Although the PLD bank election has intensified the rivalry between Ms Hebbalkar and the Jarkiholi brothers, sources say their relations were already soured over a financial matter. Ms Hebbalkar, who is said to have taken a Rs 200 crore loan from three banks for her under construction sugar mill, reportedly loaned some of it to the Jarkiholi brothers to start their own factory in Maharashtra.

But the brothers allegedly refused to return the money later, leading to the rift between them. Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is said to have tried to iron out the differences between them, but in vain.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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