As actor Sumalatha clarified that she will contest from Mandya in Karnataka, BJP is trying to rope her into their fold
Actor-turned-politician and Sumalatha’s husband Ambareesh, a Congress leader, represented Mandya constituency from 1998 to 2009. Later, Janata Dal (Secular) wrested the seat from Congress. INC social media head Divya Spandana had a small stint from the constituency in 2013 which is currently represented by L R Shivarame Gowda of JD(S).
Since Ambareesh’s demise in November 2018, Sumalatha was keen on contesting from her husband’s old turf. She has assisted him several times in the constituency and hopes to bank on her husband’s cult.
Congress is ready to field her at Mandya. However, JD(S) supremo Dewe Gowda is uncompromising on their decision to field Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son of Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. After the seat-sharing discussions, Gowda declared the candidature of Nikhil. Another grandchild of the former PM, Prajwal Revanna, who is the son of Karnataka minister H D Revanna, is contesting from grandfather’s seat, Hassan.
Though Sumalatha earlier said that her candidature will depend upon Congress’ seat pact with JD(S), she later jumped into the campaign fold despite senior leaders of Congress attempting to convince her.
Eyeing at the crisis in the ruling coalition, BJP is looking to back Sumalatha. In 2014, Congress and JD(S) candidates together got more than 80% of the polled votes. Though BJP improved its position in the 2018 by-elections, they are in no position to put out a fight to the Congress-JD(S) combine. Even if Sumalatha manages to get a share of Congress’ votes, JD(S) is confident that she will pose no threat to Nikhil.
Unlike in northern Karnataka, BJP is not a challenge to the ruling coalition in the southern parts. Hence, it will not be an issue for BJP to experiment by backing Sumalatha.
The actor, known to Malayalees through her character ‘Clara’ in Thoovanathubmbikal, had ruled out the possibility of joining BJP earlier. But the actor made a ‘courtesy visit’ to former Congress leader- now in BJP- S M Krishna, strengthening the speculation of her candidature from BJP.