BJP leaders meet at Katti residence

The Jarkiholi brothers, Mahesh Kumthalli and Srimanth Patil not invited

A meeting of various BJP leaders in Belagavi district, held without the Jarkiholi brothers, has created a sort of interest in political circles across the State.

It is believed that most leaders who spoke at the meeting focused on seeking additional berths in the coming Cabinet expansion and about the need to keep the growing clout of the Jarkiholis in check.

The leaders met at the North Belagavi home of Forest Minister Umesh Katti near Sri Nagar Public Park. The three-hour-long meeting started with dinner and went beyond midnight, party sources said.

The issues discussed include the defeat of Mahantesh Kavatagimath in the Legislative Council polls, who will be inducted into the Cabinet and who will be dropped, whether Ramesh Jarkiholi and his protege Mahesh Kumthalli will be made Ministers, inclusion of three-time MLA Abhay Patil into the Ministry and whether Mr. Umesh Katti and Shashikala Jolle will be retained as Ministers.

The other points on the agenda included the appointment of loyalists of various MLAs as heads of boards and corporations and the delay in Mayoral elections to urban local bodies.

However, the highest amount of time was spent on discussing the rising clout of the Jarkiholi brothers in Belagavi politics and the perception that their influence is growing outside the district also.

Some leaders argued that Ramesh Jarkiholi has been trying to push his case with the BJP high command and the Sangh Parivar leaders. His frequent visits to the residence of RSS North Karnataka coordinator Arvindrao Deshpande in Athani have been cited by some leaders as his desperate attempts at proving his authority. Some others spoke of media reports that have suggested that Mr. Umesh Katti and Ms. Shashikala Jolle will be dropped from the Cabinet in the next round of expansion to make way for Ramesh Jarkiholi or his brother and KMF Chairman Balachandra Jarkiholi.

The MLAs spoke of two recent incidents as evidence of this fact — the united efforts of the Jarkiholi brothers in ensuring the victory of Lakhan Jarkiholi against the BJP’s official candidate Mahantesh Kavatagimath and the no-confidence motion moved by some directors in the District Central Cooperative (DCC) Bank.

DCC Bank chairman Ramesh Katti said that the Jarkiholi brothers have provoked five DCC Bank directors to issue letters of no- confidence in him and sought a re-election. He also suspected that Balachandra Jarkiholi is trying to create a pan-Karnataka cooperative financial institution, drawing capital from the KMF, only to ensure that the Gokak family (the Jarkiholis) can achieve monopoly over that institution.

Mr. Umesh Katti told the group that he will stand by them in their times of need and sought their cooperation, if the party high command sought consensus on the issue of district leadership. Some leaders expressed displeasure over the leadership style of district in-charge Minister Govind Karjol, who is yet to hold a Karnataka Development Programme review meeting here.

The meeting is seen by some as Mr. Umesh Katti’s attempt to emerge as the unquestioned leader of Lingayats in North Karnataka and to remind the BJP’s State leadership that Lingayats formed the bulk of its following in the region.

The list of invitees revealed attempts by Mr. Umesh Katti to patch up soured relations with his political rivals, the former Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi and MLA and DCC Bank director Mahantesh Dodagoudar.

Most of the BJP legislators, some former MLAs and some party office-bearers, attended the meeting. Member of Parliament Mangala Angadi did not attend it. But Lok Sabha member Anna Saheb Jolle and Rajya Sabha member Eeranna Kadadi were present.

Among the MLAs, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Balachandra Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumthalli and Srimanth Patil were not invited.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abhay Patil confirmed before reporters in Belagavi on Sunday that the meeting was held in the Katti residence. He, however, denied that it was political. “We gathered to discuss about the release of grants to our constituencies, before the State and Union Budgets,” he said.

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