Coalition partners set for conflict over Mandya

Coalition partners set for conflict over Mandya

Nikhil Kumar

Despite being uncertain over his candidature from the Mandya Lok Sabha segment, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son and actor Nikhil Kumar is convinced that the JD(S) should not at “any cost” cede the constituency to its coalition partner, the Congress, in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Nikhil’s candidature is more or less certain, and it is a matter of time before his party makes the announcement. The 29-year-old, however, is set to make a political debut, given that the Congress is in no mood to let go of the constituency without putting up a fight.

The local Congress leaders have been trying to impress upon the state leaders to field the late actor and politician M H Ambareesh’s wife Sumalatha or their son, Abhishek. Abhishek, who is also an actor, and Nikhil are good friends.

Nikhil told DH on Friday — the day his second film ‘Seetharama Kalyana’ hit the screens, that it was important for both parties to uphold the coalition dharma.

“Mandya is JD(S)’s strongest belt. There is no question of letting go of the seat to the Congress. In fact, the Congress should not vie for the seat at all. It is the JD(S) which has won all seven Assembly seats in Mandya. Yes, there is a rivalry between the two parties in Mandya, and I don’t blame the local Congress leaders for insisting that the seat should not be relinquished to the JD(S). But the equations have changed now and we are part of a coalition government,” he added.

Nikhil also said that his friend Abhishek was not interested in contesting the elections. “I know Abhi closely. Though he is under pressure to contest the elections, the fact is that he is not interested in entering politics now. He is more focused on movies,” he added.

He, however, conceded that he was “mentally prepared” to take a plunge into politics at this juncture. But his father was still in two minds, he added. “There is a lot of pressure from the local leaders. If my party needs me now, I will undoubtedly enter the fray — no second thoughts about it. On more than one occasion, my grandfather has expressed to me that we (youngsters) should take over as he is ageing. But my father is still in a dilemma. He has still not given me a green signal,” he added.

Nikhil also said that he was willing to make way for Gowda to contest from Mandya. “As Prajwal Revanna is contesting from Hassan, my grandfather may have to contest from Mandya. I want my granddad to win very safely. I will be very happy if he contests from Mandya. I am in no hurry — nor am I desperate,” he added.

Sumalatha Ambareesh who too expressed her indecisiveness about her candidature, however, said that it was important for her and her son Abhishek to stay connected with Mandya.

“I don’t know if I am in a stage where I can make up mind yet. I don’t want to make any decisions when I am emotionally weak. My family shares a deep emotional connect with Mandya, and I cannot give them a rude ‘No’ for an answer. After Ambareesh’s demise, the people are feeling lost. They are looking for some consolation — some assurance. I have asked the leaders to give me some time to announce my decision. Abhi will, however, be focusing on films for now,” she added. Former MLA and Congress leader N Cheluvarayaswamy, however, said that the local leaders were determined that either Sumalatha or Abhishek contest from Mandya.

“It is not just the demand of the Congress leaders or workers. The people of Mandya want somebody from Ambareesh’s family to contest. The JD(S) should give an opportunity to Ambareesh’s kin,” he added.