Bengaluru: DK Shivakumar, one of Congress’ senior leaders in Karnataka, is certainly not a mere cog in the wheel. Be it any crisis that has the potential to split the party apart, it is Shivakumar who jumps into quell the threat and restore the party’s equilibrium.

However, as strong and robust he may be, it is true that there are members in the Congress who feel they are better than him, and their clout in a particular region is much beyond that of water resources minister Shivakumar.

Take for instance what happened on Wednesday. Ramesh Jarkiholi, a rebel Congressman and Gokak MLA, is in Bengaluru to tender his resignation. Incidentally, when a journalist asked him a question related to Shivakumar, he shrugged it off saying, “Avaru nam levelle alla” which means “We (Jarkiholi brothers) and he (DK Shivakumar) are not of the same level”.

When the matter was brought to the notice of Shivakumar, he downplayed it saying “We are like family members. If they want, let them hit me. I don’t mind.” Though the senior Congress leader chose to be wishy-washy about it, the rut runs deeper.

It was the year 2018. Shivakumar supported Lakshmi Hebbalkar’s team in an election related to a local cooperative bank in Belagavi. This move to support her vexed the Jarkiholi brothers as they smelled a conspiracy by Shivakumar to gain foothold into Belagavi.

The action then shifted from Belagavi to Ballari, which are at least 300 km apart. In the month of November 2018, the Ballari MP by-election was held. Here, it was the Shivakumar-backed VS Ugrappa who was given a Congress ticket and he went on to win. On the other hand, Ramesh backed the candidacy of Y Devendrappa, who is again being fielded on a BJP ticket for the current Lok Sabha elections.

“It is an internal fight for their own respective fiefdoms and positions in the party. It is a fight for one-upmanship and clout,” says SA Hemanth Kumar, a political analyst.