Pramoda Devi, widow of the scion of the erstwhile Mysore royal family Srikantadatta Wodeyar who died recently, has become the most sought-after candidate in Karnataka for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls with the JD(S), Congress and the BJP all trying to field her in Mysore to cash in on the sympathy in the region for her late husband.
Devi has been, over the last two months since the death of Wodeyar at the age of 60, approached by the likes of JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. The BJP is using royal connections of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to woo the grieving widow who has shown no inclination to join politics so far.
First off the blocks, soon after the death of Wodeyar on December 10 last year, in wooing Devi to take the political plunge was former CM Kumaraswamy who hinted that the JD(S) had earlier offered the Mysore seat to the “prince”.
“We had first proposed Wodeyar for the Mysore seat since we were sure the Congress will not change its sitting MP and the BJP had in the past opposed his candidature. Following his death, we offered the seat to his wife but madam was still in a state of shock and she remains undecided,’’ party spokesperson Ramesh Babu said.
“There is a lot of goodwill for the royal family in the Mysore region and they have their own value which is why we had proposed Wodeyar but unfortunately, he died. We feel there is sympathy for him still at work in the region. Other political parties are now trying to capitalise on this,’’ he said.
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The Congress is also believed to have made an attempt to woo the widow. While party vice-president Rahul Gandhi met Pramoda Devi at Bangalore Palace on January 12 on the sidelines of an interaction with youths, the sitting Congress MP from Mysore H Vishwanath made a public offer to give up his seat for her.
Congress sources, however, denied that the meeting between Rahul and Devi had anything to do with seeking her candidature for Lok Sabha polls.
“Rahulji called on the widow of the scion of the Mysore royal family to offer condolences. They did not discuss politics. Wodeyar was after all a two-time Congress MP,’’ a senior party leader who was present at the palace on January 12 said.
Ramesh Babu, however, claimed the Congress meeting with Pramoda Devi last month was to dissuade her from contesting on a JD(S) ticket.
Even as the widow rejected the JD(S) and Congress overtures, stating publicly that she was not keen on contesting elections, reports have emerged that the BJP, which is organisationally weak in the Mysore region, is trying to convince her to fight on its ticket. Sources in the party confirmed the effort.
“An effort is being made to convince Pramoda Devi to contest the elections. Different channels are at work. One of the channels is Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje who also belongs to a royal family,’’ said a BJP official.
The Congress has over the years been the most successful party in the Mysore constituency, although Srikantadatta Wodeyar lost the seat on one occasion contesting on its ticket. He also lost once as a BJP candidate.