Congress in disarray in Mandya district
SMK, Ambareesh at loggerheads over Srirangapatna candidate
The Congress, which is seeming confident about returning to power in the State, may find it difficult in the Vokkaliga heartland Mandya as there are too many stumbling blocks in its path here.
The differences between the party’s two senior leaders S M Krishna and M H Ambareesh has remained unresolved. The growing differences between the two over selection of candidate for the Srirangapatna constituency has turned into a prestige issue, with neither showing any signs of budging. The duo is presently camping in New Delhi, lobbying for the ticket for their respective supporters.
While Krishna is backing Ravindra Srikantaiah; Ambareesh, who is the party’s candidate from Mandya, is rooting for S L Lingaraju, Srirangapatna block Congress president.
In the 2008 Assembly elections, Ravindra’s candidature was cancelled in the last minute with the party paving way for Ambareesh’s entry. The actor-turned-politician however faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of Ramesh Bandisiddegowda of the JD(S).
The soured relationship between the two is now taking a toll on the Congress workers in the district, who are worried that the friction might prove costly for the party.
Congress workers in Mandya are doubly worried. They are wondering why their leader has refused to enter the constituency, despite his candidature being announced four days ago, and is instead fighting for the ticket for his supporter in Srirangapatna.
The going for Ambareesh in Mandya is anything but easy. He is facing dissidence in the party. Supporters of former minister and District Congress President M S Athmananda, an aspirant for the ticket from Mandya, are angry over denial of the ticket to their leader.
There are also reports that Ambareesh has spoiled the prospects of former MLA Kalpana Siddararaju getting Congress ticket from Maddur. Kalpana, who quit the JD(S) to join Congress is now seriously contemplating on contesting as an Independent.
Ambareesh is said to have had a say in the selection of candidates for Maddur (Madhu Madegowda) and Pandavpura (L D Ravi).
Congress’ only strongholds in the district are Nagamangala and KR Pet, where the sitting MLAs Suresh Gowda and K B Chandrashekar, respectively, will be seeking re-election. The Congress has been desperately trying to wrest the constituencies it lost to the JD(S) in the past elections.
The JD(S) had won Mandya, Srirangapatna, Pandavpura and Maddur constituencies in 2008. Malavalli was won by Independent candidate P M Narendraswamy.
There are indications that Narendraswamy might be admitted into the Congress fold. This has not gone down well with former MLA Mallajamma, who has been lobbying for the ticket.