Can Ramesh Jarkiholi, the key architect of the 2019 rebellion, lead ‘Op Lotus’ 2.0 in Karnataka? All About BJP’s ‘MLA Magnet’

Ramesh Jarkiholi, former minister in the Basavaraj Bommai government and BJP MLA from Gokak, is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Jarkiholi’s back to back statements left the BJP embarrassed, which soon distanced itself from the leader.

The first statement came on January 22, when Jarkiholi claimed that the BJP would pay Rs 6,000 per vote in the upcoming assembly elections as he vowed to defeat his political rival Lakshmi Hebbalkar of the Congress.

“I see that she (Hebbalkar) is distributing gifts to people in her constituency. He would have distributed kitchen appliances like cookers and mixers worth Rs 1,000. She will give more such gifts. All these will cost around Rs 3,000. I appeal to all of you. If we don’t give you Rs 6,000 then don’t vote for your candidate,” he was heard addressing a rally at Sullebhavi in ​​Belagavi.

The Congress has decided to ask the Election Commission to look into Jarkiholi’s statement.

Hebbalkar denied the allegations made by Jarkiholi and claimed that the kitchen equipment and utensils distributed were prizes for various competitions organized by the Lakshmi Tai Foundation. “Why is it that only women have received these gifts? If they were political gifts, they should have been distributed equally among men and women, right?” she questioned.

Commenting on Jarkiholi, a senior Congress leader said: “He has always won elections by using muscle power and by distributing money, food and liquor. If people do not vote in favor of BJP, they will also resort to threats. He will not blink an eye to spend at least Rs 500 crore in the upcoming election to woo the voters. It is the duty of the Election Commission and the Income Tax Department to take care of this.

Soon, Jarkiholi returned with another embarrassing statement on Monday, claiming that “the BJP will form the government in Karnataka even if the party does not get a majority”. This time he was addressing a public meeting in his constituency Gokak.

“I am sure the BJP will win a majority of seats. Even if this does not happen, BJP will form the government. We will do whatever it takes to form our government,” said the leader who was at the forefront of the 2019 defection drama where 17 MLAs from the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) defected to the BJP and the HD Kumaraswamy-led Toppled the coalition government. ,

Karnataka Congress MLA from Chittapur and KPCC communications president Priyank Kharge said Jarkiholi’s statement is hard evidence to show that ‘Operation Lotus’ exists and BJP has huge funds.

“Operation Lotus is quid-pro-quo where money is exchanged in exchange for people’s mandate or manufactured majority and these people (BJP) have earned enough money to bribe people again. There is no ambiguity left,” Kharge said.

Why is the Election Commission, Enforcement Directorate, or the Income Tax Department not taking suo moto cognizance of this and taking action?” Kharge asked a question.

As the political war of words continues, News18 takes a look at who Ramesh Jarkiholi is and why he is so powerful.

Ramesh Jarkiholi, along with his four brothers—Satish, Balachandra, Bhimashi and Lakhan—are all politically active and have been seen contesting elections against each other. While Ramesh and Balachandra are now with the BJP, Satish is with the Congress and Bhimashi and Lakhan are independent candidates.

The Jarkiholis are considered to be one of the most powerful politicians in the northern Karnataka region. He belongs to the Bedara-Nayak caste and is popularly called ‘Sahukar’ (lord).

Among the brothers, the family controls three major sugar mills in Belagavi district and is one of the largest producers of sugarcane in the state. He also has investments in the education and liquor sectors.

All the brothers have huge clout in Belagavi district and influence at least 18 of Karnataka’s 224 assembly seats. Belagavi has the second highest number of seats in a single district after Bengaluru.

Ramesh Jarkiholi is considered one of the key architects of the 2019 rebellion, where 17 rebel MLAs from the Congress and the JDS were brought to Mumbai by him and kept in a private hotel for almost a month, until the BJP There were no talks to formally induct them. were finalized.

The six-time MLA was the water resources minister in the current BJP government, but was forced to resign in 2021 after a woman released an alleged CD, which claimed he had sought sexual favors from her on the pretext of offering her a job. Had demanded Activist Dinesh Kalahalli had filed a police complaint against Jarkiholi.

On February 6, 2022, the investigation into the CD case by a Special Investigation Team filed a ‘B’ report before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Court, clearing Jarkiholi of the charges.

Since the clean chit, Jarkiholi Basavaraj Bommai has been waiting to rejoin the cabinet.

Jarkiholi, who was earlier with the Congress, walked out of the party due to his constant standoff with the party’s state president DK Shivakumar. A Congress insider said that at one point Jarkiholi was eyeing the post of KPCC president as well.

Jarkiholi’s clash with the current Belagavi Rural MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar is nothing new. In 2018, the Jarkiholi brothers declared an all-out war against Hebbalkar and Shivakumar, whom they alleged were “interfering with their affairs in the region”.

Both Ramesh and Satish were in the Congress and Ramesh had even threatened to leave the party if Hebbalkar was not reined in. Got a call from the then Congress President. Rahul Gandhi Ramesh to pacify Jarkiholi and get him to stay.

At the wedding of Yeddyurappa’s personal assistant Santosh a few months later, Ramesh Jarkiholi is said to have already started talks with the BJP and met senior party leaders. He was also seen mingling with senior BJP leaders and hosting a dinner for them in Belagavi when he was expected to attend an important cabinet meeting convened by HD Kumaraswamy.

BJP has faith in Jarkiholi and his pull. Responding to statements made by Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah that there were several disgruntled BJP and JD(S) MLAs who had reached out to him to join the Congress, Govind Karjol, minister in-charge of Belagavi district, said Jarkiholi would see 16 more MLAs. can help. from other parties as he had done before.

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