Vijaykumar Patil

Belgaum: The Bharatiya Janata Party is learnt to have decided to allow persons belonging to the general category to contest elections in the Assembly constituencies that were reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but have now become general segments.

A senior party leader told The Hindu on Saturday that people belonging to the non-SC/ST communities could not contest elections from these constituencies for about 30 years. Following the delimitation process, some of the reserved constituencies have become general segments. Also, constituencies that were open for general categories had now become reserved. It is exactly for this reason that the party has not been able to finalise its candidates for Gokak in Belgaum district. Of the 18 Assembly segments in the district, the BJP has declared its nominees for 13 segments only.

Until the delimitation exercise, Gokak Assembly constituency was reserved for the Scheduled Tribes. It has now been de-reserved, which means that people from the general category can contest from here. Yamkanmardi, a new constituency created in the Hukkeri taluk, has been reserved for the Scheduled Tribes.

While Raibag in Raibag taluk continues to be reserved for Scheduled Castes, a new constituency “Kudachi” within the taluk has been created and also reserved for Scheduled Castes. Chikkodi constituency is now a general constituency.

The problem for the BJP is that Bhimshi Jarkiholi, brother of Congress leader Ramesh Jarkiholi and former Ministers Satish Jarkiholi and Balachandra Jarkiholi, has expressed interest to contest from Gokak.

Mr. Ramesh Jarkiholi represented Gokak in the Assembly twice. Mr. Bhimshi Jarkiholi, who runs educational institutions in Gokak town, has now decided to join electoral politics. But, the BJP plans to ask him to contest from Yamkanmardi.

The BJP leader said that aspirants belonging to the reserved categories were free to contest from areas reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

But, will Mr. Bhimshi Jarkiholi contest from Yamkanmardi if the BJP does not oblige him? This question assumes importance as his another brother Lakhan Jarkiholi is also stated to be keen on contesting from the same constituency.

As of now, the names that have been finalised are Lakshman Soudi (Athani); Baramanagowda Halagowda Kage (Kagwad); Suresh Lathur (Arabhavi); Shankargowda Patil (Belgaum North); Suresh S. Marihal (Kittur); Jagadish Metagud (Bailhongal); Ananda Mamani (Saudatti Yellamma); Mahadevappa Yadwad (Ramdurg); D.M. Ihole (Raybag-SC); Shashikanth Naik (Hukkeri); Prahalad Remani (Khanapur); Abay Patil (Belgaum South); and Nagesh K. Desai (Belgaum Rural).

Mr. Soudi, Mr. Kage, Mr. Marihal, Mr. Metgud, Mr. Yadwad and Mr. Naik were members of the previous Assembly.