Laxmi Hebbalkar may be replaced as Congress women’s wing president


Published: 01/10/2018



After a stormy battle with the powerful Jarkiholi brothers of Belagavi in the last few weeks and her recent claim of Rs 30 crore cash and a cabinet berth offer from BJP, Karnataka State Mahila Congress Chief Laxmi Hebbalkar may soon be replaced.

While some in the party credit the decision to controversies that Hebbalkar invited over the political crisis in Belagavi, others have called it a ‘routine’ change of guard.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Hebbalkar, however, said the possible change has nothing to do with the recent happenings in Belagavi and the party’s bylaw mandated a change in guard every three years.
Sources in the party suggested that a change was imminent given the truce pact made with the Jarkiholi brothers.

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Laxmi, the current MLA from Belagavi Rural, who served as president of Belagavi district Congress for five-and-half years, was appointed state Mahila Congress chief in May 2015. Indicating that she was willing to step down, Laxmi said as an MLA, her constituency needed more of her time.

“For 11-12 years I have been an office-bearer in the Congress. Now that I am an MLA, I want to give more time and devote myself to my constituency. It is my view that one should keep growing. A single person shouldn’t occupy a chair,” she said.

‘Decision has nothing to do with Belagavi tiff’

The decision to shift Hebbalkar, a Lingayat, comes days after her standoff with the Jarkiholi brothers reached fever pitch, even threatening to topple the JD(S)-Congress coalition government. Hebbalkar, however, she said the possible change of guard had nothing to do with the escalation. “It is absolutely not related to the recent incidents. Congress is a party of justice and I believe in its principles. There is no connection between the two,” she said.

Sources in the party, however, point to the Belagavi crisis as the most important reason for the possible replacement. “Yes, the party bylaw suggests a three-year term in office, but many have been given extensions. Despite performing well, Hebbalkar is likely to be replaced, thanks to the lobby against her,” said a source in the Congress.

Another office-bearer suggested that keeping Laxmi out of office was part of the truce that Congress offered to pacify its angry legislators. Laxmi, a first generation politician, hails from the powerful Lingayat community, a vote bank that the Congress intends to woo ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.