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Betting fever over LS poll battle in Mandya

Independent Candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh during a campaign rally at K R Pete, in Mandya District. Photo/ B H Shivakumar

A betting frenzy has gripped Mandya, where Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil and independent candidate Sumalatha, wife of late actor-turned-politician M H Ambareesh, fought a bitter Lok Sabha poll campaign.

People are betting cash, precious agricultural land, livestock, tractors and bikes on the outcome of the poll, which saw a massive 80% voter turnout - the highest in all the 14 constituencies in the state.

Ramesh Gowda, a resident of Maddur, told DH that this was first time Maddur has witnessed such betting. “I have bet Rs 5 lakh on Sumalatha’s win. I also paid another Rs 1 lakh that she will win with one lakh margin. Some people saved the money given by party workers and are using it to bet,” he said.

Jayaram, a resident of Kadukothanahalli village near Maddur, and a fan of Ambareesh, has bet his one acre land on Sumalatha’s win with a JD(S) supporter of his own village. A farmer in Panakahalli in Mandya taluk has bet Rs 1 lakh on Sumalatha’s win while another farmer has bet Rs 80,000 in Jakkanahalli.

According to some locals, the tide seems to have turned in Sumalatha’s favour. Chandrashekar, a local leader from Mandya, said most of them  thought that Nikhil was going to win till the campaign concluded. But after the polls, it seems that Sumalatha has the edge.

“This confusion has led people to bet. From Wednesday, betting has increased drastically. People have bet, tractors, lands, bikes, cattle, sheep, money. It is everyday talk now. Some youths have take even social media to bet and some locals are doing it within their village. Supporters of Nikhil are offering double the bet amount,” said Chandrashekhar. 

And it’s not just Mandya residents who have caught the betting fever. People from Bengaluru, Mysuru and other parts are visiting Mandya to know the ground reality in order to bet. 

The police know about the betting but say that everything was happening clandestinely. DH contacted various police stations in Mandya district and many police inspectors confirmed that there was an increase in betting for the past two days.

“If any complaints are filed, action would be initiated. But nobody has come out to complain. This is not a good development as it is going to affect their families and their financial condition,” said Mandya Rural Police.

Political sources revealed that JD(S) and Congress leaders at taluk level had bet Rs 10 lakh and more on the outcome. 

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