Cakewalk turns into bumpy ride for Nikhil in Mandya

Even as Nikhil, son of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, was preparing the ground for a smooth election, a shrill demand arose from the fans of Ambareesh. Now, it is growing into a movement in favour of Sumalatha. (DH File Photo)

What was deemed to be a cakewalk for Nikhil of the JD(S) in Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, just a couple of months back, has become a huge challenge for the party as the election is approaching, with the entry of actor Sumalatha, wife of the late actor-politician Ambareesh.

All eight Assembly constituencies under Mandya Lok Sabha constituency — seven taluks of Mandya district and KR Nagar taluk of Mysuru district — are represented by JD(S) MLAs, three of whom are ministers.

With the formation of the JD(S)-Congress coalition, the JD(S) is left with almost no opposition in the constituency. It was evident in the byelection held in the first week of November last.

Even though the nearest rival, the BJP, secured a record of 2,44,377 votes, by improving its share from 86,993 votes polled in the 2014 general elections, L R Shivaramegowda of the JD(S), candidate of the JD(S)-Congress coalition, won with a huge margin of 3,24,925 votes, without much effort.

Even though there were problems between the coalition partners, as they have been traditional rivals in the constituency until the coalition was formed in May last, the voters did not have a choice as the BJP has no base here.

Despite being the home constituency of BJP state president and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, the saffron party is yet to gain ground here.

Beginning

Even as Nikhil, son of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, was preparing the ground for a smooth election, a shrill demand arose from the fans of Ambareesh. Now, it is growing into a movement in favour of Sumalatha.

While a few Congress leaders like former minister N Chaluvarayaswamy and ex-MLA Ramesh Babu Bandisiddegowda, both from the JD(S) earlier, have openly extended their support to Sumalatha, many more Congress leaders have discreetly extended their support.

Besides, the leaders of the BJP, the party which does not have a proper base in the constituency, is happy riding piggyback. Most of the district leaders of the BJP and also the workers have extended their support to Sumalatha.

Sumalatha met BJP leader and former chief minister S M Krishna, who was in the Congress for over four-and-a-half decades, recently, to seek his support. Some leaders and workers in the JD(S), who are disappointed with the dynasty politics, are also expected to support Sumalatha.

Toned down

The JD(S) leaders, including Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and Transport Minister D C Thammanna, who went on an offensive, criticising Ambareesh and Sumalatha, have toned down, realising the dangers.

It is learnt that the chief minister has asked the JD(S) leaders not to comment harshly against Sumalatha. The JD(S) leaders seem to have understood that any adverse comment may increase the sympathy wave in favour of Sumalatha.

The warning by Tourism Minister Sa Ra Mahesh, who represents KR Nagar Assembly segment, under Mandya LS constituency, to the Congress, not to play a double game, is an indicator to the fear of losing the battle to Sumalatha. Mahesh has said, the support of the JD(S) to the Congress candidate in Mysuru-Kodagu LS constituency, will depend on the support extended by the Congress to the JD(S) in Mandya.

Even though Sumalatha is continuously touring the constituency, she has not yet made an announcement on her candidature. She is expected to make an announcement on Monday. Her confidants have advised her to contest as an Independent as it will facilitate garnering of the voters of all three major parties — Congress, JD(S) and BJP — as both Ambareesh and Sumalatha have fans cutting across party lines. If she contests as a BJP candidate, she may lose the support of the other two party voters.

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Cakewalk turns into bumpy ride for Nikhil in Mandya

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