National

Priyanka Jarkiholi: The Millennial MP

Priyanka Jarkiholi is the first tribal woman to win from an unreserved constituency

Illustration: Vikas Thakur
Photo: Illustration: Vikas Thakur
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“Some people say women from political families tend to listen to the men of the family, rather than take independent decisions,” Priyanka Jarkiholi said in one of her interviews. She is the daughter of Satish Jarkiholi, the PWD minister and a political heavyweight in Karnataka. Priyanka is one of the three women elected to Parliament from Karnataka and the first tribal woman to win an election from an unreserved constituency, Chikkodi in Karnataka, as a Congress candidate. “But we must prove ourselves by our work,” she said.

Armed with an MBA degree from the K L S Gogte Institute of Technology in Belagavi, 26-year-old Priyanka did not have any political experience when she jumped into the electoral fray. She was taking on 61-year-old incumbent BJP MP Annasaheb Shankar Jolle. In the run-up to the elections, media channels and newspapers concentrated mostly on the stark age difference between the two candidates. “Old warhorse vs newbie”, “Youth takes on seasoned campaigner”—it seemed the media had almost decided the winner even before the polling.

Though Priyanka was not involved in political activities earlier, she was active in social work for five years through the Satish Jarkiholi Foundation in Yemkanmardi constituency. She was also managing her family-owned sugar mills in Belagavi district and held directorial positions in numerous commercial ventures and charitable organisations.

From very early in life, Priyanka was keen to enter politics and serve the people in a better way. Her father played a pivotal role in pushing her into politics. Side by side with him, Priyanka led the electoral campaign with much gusto, banking on the Congress party’s guarantees for women in a constituency that has seen the dominance of Lingayat male MPs. She has, on multiple occasions, pressed for greater political representation of women.

While the incumbent BJP MP was rather inaccessible to the people on the ground, Priyanka reached out to most residents in her constituency over the past few months and assured them that she would work for their welfare if she were elected. Very conscious of her privilege, Priyanka said, “I have multiple identities—a young person; the daughter of a minister; and, a tribal girl who was fortunate to get a post-graduate education. I do not shy away from these identities.” She defeated the incumbent MP in Chikkodi by a margin of 90,834 votes.

(This appeared in the print as 'The Millennial MP')

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