Chikkodi Lok Sabha constituency: Trifurcation demand takes a back seat as all focus is on bid of Minister’s daughter to enter Parliament

Chikkodi is unique in that it is the only unreserved Lok Sabha seat in Karnataka where a candidate belonging to a Scheduled Tribe is pitted against a Lingayat leader

Updated - May 06, 2024 12:03 pm IST

Published - May 04, 2024 08:17 pm IST - Belagavi

Annasaheb Jolle, BJP candidate for Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat.

Annasaheb Jolle, BJP candidate for Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat. | Photo Credit:

The Renuka temple at Kottalagi village attracts devotees from various districts of Karnataka and Maharashtra. The tiny village has another unique distinction. It lies at the intersection of Karnataka and Maharashtra. It is the last village in Belagavi district on the Bachi-Raichur highway before the road enters the vast dry fields of Vijayapura district.

The people of this village, situated around 210 km away from the district headquarters, usually take the overnight bus to reach Belagavi. “Any farmer who has any work in the district offices cannot leave in the morning, get the work done and get back by night,” said Raju Kharpat, a resident.

Belagavi district stretches for 350 km from Athani taluk in the north-east to Khanapur in the south-west. The zilla panchayat has jurisdiction over 506 villages. The demand to divide the district to create two more new districts is long pending. Several people feel a proper trifurcation exercise can lead to equitable development. However, the exercise to create Chikkodi district was not taken up when some districts were divided in the past. This is probably the most locally important issue in this election. Sadly, no party is talking about it at the moment.

Unique character

The Chikkodi constituency has attracted the attention of the State as the Congress has fielded Minister Satish Jarkiholi’s daughter, Priyanka Jarkiholi, against Annasaheb Jolle of the BJP, who is seeking a re-election. It is also unique in that it is the only unreserved Lok Sabha seat in the State where a candidate belonging to a Scheduled Tribe is pitted against a Lingayat leader. K.H. Ranganath, a member of a Scheduled Caste, was the only leader to be elected from an unreserved seat in Chitradurga in 1984. It came to be reserved for SC candidates only in 2007.

Chikkodi was reserved for SC candidates from 1967 to 2007, after which it became a general seat. Parties consider it as an AHINDA seat for the higher proportion of SC, ST, OBC, and minority electorate compared to others. As per the 2001 Census, SC/ST population is about 18.32% and minorities form around 15.6% here.

Priyanka Jarkiholi, Congress candidate for Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat. 

Priyanka Jarkiholi, Congress candidate for Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat.  | Photo Credit:

The BJP seems to be facing anti-incumbency in Chikkodi. Mr. Jolle, who has built a strong cooperative empire and runs a chain of educational institutions, is seen as an “inaccessible” leader. Arihant Desai, a farmer in Kudchi, said that the only time the MP came to the town was when the new branch of Shri Beereshwar Cooperative Credit Society was opened. “We seldom see him. It is not easy to get his appointment in his office at Examba or his home town either,” the farmer said. The cooperative society has an annual turnover of over ₹3,400 crore, has over 200 offices in multiple States and has a membership base of 3.6 lakh.

Senior BJP leaders such as Ramesh Katti, Mahantesh Kavatagimath, and Prabhakar Kore are not very active in Mr. Jolle’s campaign. His employees are handling the campaign. Many BJP workers themselves said that he is dependent heavily on the “Modi factor”. However, Mr. Jolle said he is confident of returning to Parliament “as people want Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister for the third time”.

More power to women

Ms. Priyanka Jarkiholi believes that the “pro-people” image of leaders in her family and their easy accessibility will help her. “That is what people say about my father. He is always available to them and that even if he is unable to solve their problems, they are convinced that he would have tried hard. I will strive to maintain that image,” she said. She believes a larger number of women can improve the state of Indian politics.

The Congress is facing a challenge in Shambhu Krishna Kallolikar, a former IAS officer who has come to fight the polls as an Independent after three decades of service in Tamil Nadu. He belongs to the SC (right) community. He had polled over 54,000 votes in Raibag constituency in the last Assembly polls and stood second. Mr. Satish Jarkiholi, however, does not think he is a serious threat. “He will get votes in his areas of influence. But it will not upset our chances,” he said.

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