Political circles in Karnataka are agog with speculation that senior Congress leader from Belgaum district Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was ousted from the H D Kumaraswamy led Congress-JD(S) cabinet, ostensibly on the grounds of “poor performance”, is likely to resign as member of the Karnataka assembly and emerge as the focal point of a large-scale rebellion that has hit the party after latest round of Cabinet reshuffle on Saturday (22 December), Deccan Herald reported.
Several television channels aired an audio clip of a purported conversation between Jarkiholi and his supporter — yet again triggering speculations of the Gokak MLA’s imminent defection to the BJP. He is also heard saying in the clip that he is still unclear about the number of legislators who will also join him.
Initially, Jarkiholi was reportedly in secret touch with senior BJP leaders, but more recently he was seen openly hobnobbing with the opposition party when the legislative session was in progress in Belagavi.
At least two Congress MLAs from Belagavi district who are considered close to Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumatalli from Athani and Shrimant Patil from Kagwad, are reported to be holding hectic parleys with their followers and are likely to make a decision on resigning as MLAs. Another five to six-party legislators from Ballari, Raichur and Koppal, who are upset that the party ignores their demands, are also expected to join the confabulations.
According to political observers in the state, a group of dissent MLAs led by Ramesh Jarkiholi and his brother Satish Jarkiholi have been preparing to quit for the past three months but had delayed their decision hoping to receive a good deal from the party leadership.
The Jarkiholi brothers even refused to go to Delhi for rapprochement with the party high command and claimed to have the support of 16 MLAs. They were at loggerheads with the Congress’ water resources minister and powerful leader D K Shivakumar, accusing the latter of attempting to spread his influence to north Karnataka using his close aide and MLA Laxmi Hebalkar.
Congress troubleshooters, however, have successfully managed to silence the dissidence to a limited extent by driving a wedge between the two brothers, as Ramesh Jakirholi was replaced by his brother Satish Jarkiholi in the state cabinet. Another rebel, Hoskote MLA M T B Nagaraj, too has been inducted into the Cabinet.
The BJP, is presently maintaining a ‘wait and watch’ approach while officially dismissing suggestions that it may launch ‘Operation Lotus’ - a speculative plan to wrest the state governance from the current ruling combine. However if the number of legislators loyal to Jarkiholi increases to around 20, the party may reassess its strategy.
While slamming the door on Jarkiholi and four to five MLAs who are identified as Jarkiholi's close confidantes, Congress high command is said to have stepped up its efforts to dissuade other dissident MLAs from hitching on to Jarkiholi camp.
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