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Keen contest on card as siblings lock horns
Gokak Assembly constituency is among the most-watched segments in the December 5 bypolls, where the prestige and honour of Jarkiholi brothers - Ramesh and Satish - and the BJP and the Congress are at stake.
The disqualified Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who played a vital role in bringing down the Congress-JD(S) coalition and helping the BJP form government, is hoping to retain the constituency for the sixth time, albeit on the BJP ticket.
Ramesh will take on the youngest of Jarkiholi siblings, Lakhan, who is making his electoral debut on Congress, of course, with the blessings of his brother Satish Jarkiholi.
Satish managed to get Lakhan the Congress ticket despite a section of the party supported Pujari's candidature.
With the Congress leadership going all out to defeat the disqualified MLAs, Ramesh Jarkiholi, despite five consecutive wins in Assembly elections, is feeling the heat in the by-election. Ramesh, fondly referred to as Sahukar in the district, is leaving no stone unturned to retain the seat and silence his detractors.
A battalion of BJP leaders, led by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, has been campaigning briskly in Gokak. In fact, Yediyurappa had begun his campaign trail from Gokak, last Sunday, and he is expected to campaign for the party nominee again on December 2, the penultimate day of the public campaigning.
It is said, Yediyurappa's road shows and rallies in the Veerashaiva-Lingayat-dominant Gokak, will do a world of good for Ramesh's cause.
The outcome of the bypoll will decide the political future of Ramesh Jarkiholi, who has been promised a deputy chief minister's post.
On the other hand, Lakhan's defeat will prove a setback for his brother and former minister Satish Jarkiholi, and CLP leader Siddaramaiah, who time and again, had said that Congress' only aim was to defeat the disqualified legislator.
Ashok Pujari, who is contesting on the JD(S) ticket, is no pushover, either. Pujari, who had lost three Assembly elections in row to Ramesh Jarkiholi, twice as JD(S) candidate and once as BJP nominee, is hoping to encash on the differences in the faction-ridden Jarkiholi clan. In 2008 Assembly elections, Pujari had given Ramesh a run for his money by polling 37,229 votes. Ramesh had garnered 44,989 votes while his another brother Bhimshi (34,958 votes) was relegated to third place.
Interestingly, Bhimshi has expressed his support to Ramesh in the bypoll. The brothers were involved in a bitter fight over Hirenandi Sugar factory, a decade back.
The electorate in the constituency comprises 2.44 lakh voters. Veerashaiva-Lingayat community constitutes the bulk of electorate with 60,000 voters, followed by SC/ST 30,000, Kurubas 40,000 and Brahmins 15,000.
Lingayat and Kuruba voters hold sway in the constituency often represented by Valmiki leaders. While Jarkiholis belong to Valmiki community, Ashok Pujari is a Panchamasali Lingayat.