Cong picks Satish Jarkiholi for LS bypoll
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Friday approved the candidature of Satish Jarkiholi, party’s sitting legislator from Yenkanmaradi, for the on April 17 Belagavi (Belgaum) Lok Sabha bypoll. Satish is a brother of Ramesh Jarkiholi, the former state minister who finds himself in the thick of an alleged sex scandal in Karnataka that has further pushed the chief minister B.S Yediyurappa-led state government to a corner.
“He (Satish) has had good control over the district and has been in touch with all sections over the last two months. The scandal may have some perception issues, but it might not impact the votes by much since we are talking about issues like price rise, farm laws and other issues which have aggravated voters in the district,” Vinaya Navalgatti, a Congress leader from the district, said.
The announcement came a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared its list of candidates for the three bypolls in the state, including for Belagavi Lok Sabha seat and Basavakalyan and Maski assembly constituencies.
Satish Jarkiholi will contest against BJP’s Mangala Suresh Angadi, the wife of late Union minister for railways, Suresh Angadi, who died due to Covid-19 related complications in September last year.
Political analysts said the BJP does not often replace one family member with another while handing party tickets. The party has, however, gone with Angadi’s wife, showing some cracks in its confidence, analysts said. They added that by naming Satish Jarkiholi, the Congress has shown some “imagination” and “willingness to give a fight”.
Belagavi has been a stronghold of the BJP since 2004, making it harder for the Congress. But the district is also home to powerful families like Jarkiholis and Kattis. Residents have in the past favoured local equations and loyalties to the families over political allegiances, observers said.
In 2019, Suresh Angadi won 63.12 % of the vote share securing 761,991 votes against Congress’s Dr Sadhunavar, who polled 370,687 votes, according to data from the election commission of India (ECI).
Angadi had won the seat consecutively since 2004 while the Congress’s Amarsinh Vasantrao Patil had won it in 1999, according to ECI data.
Interestingly, despite Satish Jarkiholi being from the Congress while his two brothers (Balachandra and Ramesh) are with the BJP, they are a tight-knit family and have come together in the past to thwart off any outside interference into the district, said a political observer.
Known for his tactical skills, Satish was instrumental in helping former chief minister Siddaramaiah win from Badami in Bagalkote district in 2018, local leaders said.
However, the BJP sounded confident of retaining the seat. “There is really no contest, and the BJP will win. There is a sympathy factor for the wife of Suresh Angadi and the Congress does not stand a chance,” Prabhakar Kore, a former Rajya Sabha member and senior BJP leader from the district, said.
Basavakalyan seat fell vacant after sitting Congress legislator B Narayanrao died last year due to Covid-19 related complications. The Congress has fielded the wife of the late leader against BJP’s Sharanu Salagar, a first time MLA contestant.
The JD(S) has announced Syed Yasrab Ali Quadri as its candidate for the bypoll to the seta, which, analysts and political leaders said, might split the minority votes of the Congress.
In Maski, where bypoll was necessitated after Pratapgouda Patil — who had won on a Congress ticket in 2018 against Basanagouda-Turvihal of the BJP — defected to the BJP along with 17 others in 2019 and helped bring Yediyurappa to power. The Congress has named Turvihal as its candidate for the April 17 bypoll.
A Narayana, political analyst and faculty at the Azim Premji University, said the bypolls being the first elections in the state after Covid-19, economic distress and the impact of Covid-19 could have a bearing on the outcomes of the bypolls.
“Normally the ruling party has an advantage in bypolls held in the first half of the term, but this may not necessarily be true in the second half. These polls are in the second half of the term and are a good indicator to gauge the mood of the people both toward the Union and state government,” Narayana said.