ENDING THE speculation about her participation in the Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka, actress Sumalatha on Monday announced that she would contest as an Independent candidate from Mandya.
Sumalatha (55), widow of former Congress MP from Mandya M H Ambareesh, will be pitted against Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumarawamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the JD(S)-Congress alliance candidate. Click for more election news
“I sought a ticket from the Congress because my husband was with the party for 20 years or so, but I was told that the Congress will not field a candidate since it is in a coalition. I have decided to contest because hundreds of Congress party workers in Mandya are facing an identity crisis. They feel that the Congress will find it very difficult to come back to power in the region. So it becomes my duty to stand by them in what they want to do,’’ said Sumalatha.
With Sumalatha’s entry into the poll fray — with the tacit support of local level Congress leaders and BJP in Mandya — the JD(S) is expected to face a tough fight in what was otherwise considered a cakewalk. The constituency is set to vote on April 18.
The actress, who lost her husband last year, said that she was being backed by local Congress leaders in the Mandya region who fear losing ground in the constituency if it is handed to the JD(S). “I am not rushing in to cash in on any sympathy factor. If I wanted to come into politics any which way, I could have done that. I was offered Bangalore North, South and an MLC post, all of which I refused. I have made my stand very clear, that it is Mandya or nothing for me. I am not doing it to win or because I have no fear of losing, it is because people want me to contest,’’ she said.
Sumalatha was flanked by Kannada actors Darshan and Yash when she made the announcement.
JD(S) leaders in Mandya have warned that the Congress’s fortunes in other constituencies, like neighbouring Mysuru, will be affected if its party leaders in Mandya fail to support Nikhil Kumaraswamy.
Despite being a political novice, Sumalatha has received a groundswell of support since announcing her intent to contest the polls from Mandya over a month ago. “I knew the people of Mandya loved Ambareesh, but I did not know they loved me and my son Abhishek so much,’’ she said. Over the last few days, she has sought the support of senior leaders of the region, including former Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and former Union Minister S M Krishna who is currently associated with the BJP.