Karnataka

Balachandra Jarkiholi elected KMF chairman unanimously

Congress-aligned directors vote for him; Revanna backs out

In what brought an end to the nearly month-long drama in the election to the post of chairman of the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), BJP legislator from Arabhavi in Belagavi district, Balachandra Jarkiholi, was elected unanimously on Saturday.

Despite not having the strength in the 19-member KMF board, the BJP leader won hands down as Congress-aligned directors extended their support to him, even as Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Revanna backed out of the race. “I intend to run the organisation on apolitical and secular principles,” Mr. Jarkiholi said after his victory.

Mr. Jarkiholi also said he aims to more than double the annual profit of KMF, from ₹130 crore now to ₹300 crore in the near future. He is to take charge on Monday.

The board has eight Congress-aligned directors, three who support the JD(S) and two the BJP, besides government nominees, who traditionally support the government-backed candidate. Incidentally, Mr. Balachandra’s nephew Amarnath Jarkiholi, son of Congress rebel Ramesh Jarkiholi, represents Belagavi district milk union in the board.

Politically, the KMF — with a turnover of about ₹14,500 crore in 2018-19 and being the second-largest milk cooperative in the country after AMUL, is seen as a springboard by many politicians as it provides access to nearly 22,000 villages across Karnataka through 14 district milk unions. This is the second time that the post is going to a powerful and BJP-linked family. In the past, BJP legislator G. Somashekar Reddy of the Reddy Brothers fame from Ballari had been the chairman.

The run-up to Mr. Jarkiholi’s election, however, was filled with drama after Mr. Revanna attempted to advance the elections by about a month and was stalled by the newly sworn in Chief Minister, B.S. Yediyurappa citing a High Court order hours before the ballots were to be cast. Allegations were hurled at Mr. Revanna that he had held directors “hostage” to win the elections.

Ahead of Saturday’s election, Mr. Jarkiholi, who was appointed to the KMF board as a government nominee after the BJP government was formed in the State, also spoke to leaders across the political spectrum, including Mr. Revanna. The JD(S) leader sent his letter withdrawing his candidature through an aide on Saturday morning.

“Traditionally, we do not bring serious politics into KMF. We will support the nominee of the party that is in power in the State. Also, informally, Congress leaders had asked us to support Mr. Jarkiholi, who was backed by the State government,” a director and Congress supporter said.

On Saturday, besides Mr. Revanna, Ballari Milk Union representative and Congress legislator Bhima Naik, another contender to the post, remained absent.

“I spoke to Mr. Revanna and other political leaders seeking their support for my candidature. I intend to make a fresh political beginning from KMF,” said Mr. Jarkiholi.

In Hassan, Mr. Revanna said he was not disappointed with the result. “Mr. Jarkiholi was in our party. I withdrew from the contest as he sought my support. Ultimately, farmers have to benefit,” he said. He said if he had wanted to become chairman, he would have occupied the post when his brother H.D. Kumaraswamy was the Chief Minister. “Even if I had continued the legal battle, I would have won and become the chairman even now,” he said.

Meanwhile, congratulating Mr. Jarkiholi, Mr. Yediyurappa said: “I look forward to farmer-friendly projects and overall development under his tenure.”

Implementation of hike in support price imminent

Farmers involved in animal husbandry are likely to reap benefits from the announcement made by the previous JD(S)-Congress coalition hiking the government support by ₹1 a litre. While farmers are getting ₹5 per litre from the government now, the coalition government had hiked it by ₹1. “We are hoping the GO comes next week,” KMF sources said. Mr. Balachandra Jarkiholi also said that he would push for its early implementation.

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Printable version | Mar 26, 2020 10:00:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/balachandra-jarkiholi-elected-kmf-chairman-unanimously/article29310975.ece

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