Stage set: Jarkiholi brothers want to quit Congress, but will 18 MLAs back them?
Bengaluru, Sep 18: The trouble in the Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka does not seem to end. The recent banner of revolt raised by the Jarkiholi brothers of Belagavi has played out into a major issue and it appears as though even Siddaramaiah has failed to quell the rebellion.
Congress minister, Ramesh Jarkiholi and his brothers who have been leading the revolt is likely to take a decision today on whether he would quit the party or not. He has claimed that he has the support of 18 MLAs in the party. If what he claims is indeed true, then there is big trouble for the coalition. If 18 MLAs pull out, then it is curtains for the government in Karnataka.
The Jarkiholis are upset with the sudden rise of Laxmi Hebbalkar in the all important Belagavi region, which has 18 assembly constituencies. It is said that Hebbalkar has the backing of D K Shivakumar, who is trying to spread his reach over the state in the hope that he would become chief minister someday.
The JD(S) has constantly urged the Congress high command to take stock of the situation and sort out the problem. Siddaramaiah was handed the charge to speak to the sulking brothers, but sources say that during the talks held after Siddaramaiah returned from Europe there has not been much headway made.
Sources in the Congress feel that Ramesh Jarkiholi may not quit the party as he has been saying. It is clearly a pressure tactic to keep Hebbalkar down. The control over Belagavi is what has led to this problem. There is also a tussle for the control over the cooperative banks in the region and this becomes important in the view of the farm loan waiver.
Amidst the allegations that the BJP has been meddling in this issue, the party leaders say that they have nothing to do with it. In fact the party has summoned all its MLAs and is trying to safeguard them as the Congress and JD(S) has threatened to poach some of them.
While the BJP would hope that the coalition would fall, it wants to have no direct hand in it. The top brass of the party is clear that the coalition should fall on its own and its state unit should engineer any downfall.
The BJP top brass wants its state unit to focus entirely on 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In its pursuit of South India, Karnataka is a very important state. The BJP's most realistic chance of winning big in South India is in Karnataka. It would not want to convey a negative message to the voter, but engineering a collapse of a government.