Actor Sumalatha Ambareesh may have taken the high road by refusing to counter JD(S) leader and Public Works Minister H D Revanna’s remarks. The minister’s remarks have however drawn flak from various quarters, including the opposition BJP.
However, this isn’t the first time that the JD(S) leaders have resorted to sexist, inflammatory and disparaging remarks against a woman candidate who has contested from Mandya.
The JD(S) had employed a similar strategy when actor-politician Ramya (Divya Spandana) entered the fray as a Congress candidate during the 2013 Mandya bypolls.
Like in the case of Sumalatha, the JD(S), visibly threatened by Ramya’s candidature, had tried to minimise her popularity, by branding her as a novice.
During the heat of the campaigning, JD(S) MLA M Srinivas had kicked off a controversy by taunting Ramya. Questioning her parentage, Srinivas had referred to her as a “fatherless, test tube baby,” drawing strong condemnation and retribution from the Congress.
Srinivas, who was served with a show cause notice by the Mandya deputy commissioner, had later tendered an apology. Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who was then the party president too have apologised for his Srinivas’s remarks.
Despite the intimidation tactics, Ramya had managed to win the bypoll by defeating JD(S) candidate C S Puttaraju by a decent margin. She, however, lost to Puttaraju in 2014 elections.
The JD(S), which thrives on feudal and dynasty politics, very rarely has accommodated women in electoral politics. Interestingly, Revanna’s comments are in contradiction to the party’s decision in 2008. Wanting to milk the sympathy wave, the party had thought it convenient to field Kalpana Siddaraju from Maddur, after the demise of her father M S Siddaraju. The party had however ignored her in the 2013 Assembly elections to facilitate the candidature of JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda’s relative D C Thammanna, who is now a minister.
Reacting to Revanna’s remarks, Sumalatha told reporters in Mandya that such remarks would not shake her confidence. “No one should speak about women in this manner. Our culture is to worship women. I am not interested in revenge politics. Ambareesh has shown how to do honest politics, without criticising anybody. I will not be disturbed by such statements. Their statements to provoke me will not work.”