Belagavi fire doused, embers burn

Hubballi: The infighting in the Belagavi Congress has subsided, at least for now, following the intervention of KPCC working president, Eshwar Khandre. The PLD bank elections therefore passed off peacefully with Mr Mahadev Patil being elected unopposed as president and Babusaheb Jamadar as vice president on Friday. 

Although the Jarkiholi brothers have suffered a setback as the two elected men are loyalists of the state Congress women’s wing president, Laxmi Hebbalkar, they appear to have stopped flexing their muscles on the issue. Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, who had threatened of action against the state government if her loyalists won the poll, left for “a  darshan of goddess Mahalaxmi” to Kolhapur in Maharashtra.

But in a token protest, supporters of the Jarkiholi brothers raised slogans against Ms Hebbalkar. Mr Khandre had rushed to Belagavi from Bengaluru  after the Congress infighting grew serious in the few hours preceding the PLD bank elections and met both Ms Hebbalkar and Mr Satish Jarkiholi to broker a truce. 

The latter is said to have finally relented after Ms Hebbalkar agreed to replace her candidate, Bapugouda Patil for the post of PLD bank president. The minister reportedly had the knives out for Mr Patil as he had switched his loyalty from the Jarkiholis to Ms Hebbalkar a few years ago. 

Speaking to reporters later, Mr Khandre blamed the infighting in the district unit of the party on lack of proper communication. “The PLD bank election was postponed due to the infighting, but now  both the president and vice-president have been elected unopposed. There is no threat to the state government either,” he maintained. 

Sources said Mr Khandre had also assured Mr Satish Jarkiholi  of a possible  berth in the Cabinet when it was next expanded. Meanwhile, Ms Hebbalkar , who was clearly jubilant at the victory of her loyalists in the elections,  claimed she had not engaged in any horse-trading to woo the bank’s directors. “I will not react to the minister’s personal criticism of me as God will take care of everything,” she asserted.

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