Post-Ambareesh, Mandya dist Cong on revamp mode

Post-Ambareesh, Mandya dist Cong on revamp mode

The Mandya district unit of the Congress, which is not in a good condition having lost all seven Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies to the JD(S), is on a revamp mode following the death of its tall leader, actor-turned politician M H Ambareesh.

Besides the MLC from the Local Bodies constituency, Appaji Gowda, the MLCs from Teachers and Graduates constituencies of the region, Marithibbegowda and K T Srikantegowda respectively, are from the JD(S). Moreover, it is a long time, since the Congress became the ruling party in any local body in the district. At present, the Congress is reduced to playing second fiddle to the JD(S), due to the formation of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government.

The glory of the Congress in the district, ended with the term of S M Krishna as chief minister in 2004. In the 1999 polls, the Congress swept all constituencies in the district, except for Nagamangala and Malavalli. In the 2004 polls itself, the Congress was reduced to a two-seat party, winning only in Maddur and Keragodu. Then, there were nine constituencies in the district.

Among the winners in 1999 and 2004, D C Thammanna is in the JD(S) now, while N Chaluvarayaswamy and Krishna are in the Congress; and S M Krishna and B Somasekhar are in the BJP. The sons of the then winners in Srirangapatna are in the opposite parties now. Ramesh Babu Bandisiddegowda, ex-MLA, (son of Vijayalakshmi Bandisiddegowda of JD(S)) is in the Congress, while Ravindra Srikantaiah, now MLA, (son of Parvathamma Srikantaiah of the Congress) is in the JD(S).

Since the debacle of the Congress in the 2004 polls, there is no looking back for the JD(S). Even though two of the JD(S) MLAs joined the Congress before the last Assembly elections, the fortunes are yet to see a turnaround. Even in the 2008 and 2013 polls the JD(S) managed to maintain the four-two lead among the present seven constituencies of the district.

A KPCC member said, “Ambareesh was a tall leader and highly charismatic due to his larger than life image. He held a sway over the people, especially the people of Mysuru region, where Vokkaligas are a majority. However, he was like a banyan tree. All that was grown under it withered. Besides, nothing grows under it. Since his inception into the Congress, by S M Krishna in 1994, his growth has been phenomenal.”

“He canvassed for the Congress in the 1994 Assembly polls. But, he was not received well. When he was not given a ticket in the 1996 Lok Sabha poll, he joined the Janata Dal. He was elected as MP from Mandya in 1998 as a JD candidate. In 1999, he returned to the Congress and there was no looking back. He overshadowed tall leaders of the Congress like former chief minister S M Krishna, ex-MP G Madegowda, former minister M S Athmananda and ex-MLA H D Chowdaiah. In the later days, he used to claim proximity to the AICC high command also,” he said.

“Ambareesh had friendly ties with the leaders of other parties also. In the 2013 Assembly polls, when he contested from Mandya, his friends in other parties contested from the neighbouring constituencies of Maddur, Srirangapatna, Nagamangala and Pandavapura. He ensured that weak candidates are fielded in Srirangapatna and Pandavapura constituencies and supported the JD(S) candidates through his confidants in Maddur and Nagamangala. As he was a senior, compared to the only other Congress MLA (P M Narendraswamy) in the district, he was made minister in the Siddaramaiah Cabinet,” recalls a district Congress leader.

“During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, as soon as he returned from a Singapore hospital, he gave a grand entry into the district. However, he restricted himself to only two events, which were seen as his ‘show of strength’ to his own party men. Ambareesh took a dig at Congress candidate Ramya that her mode of connecting with the people, via Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, does not suit the people of Mandya. Ramya lost to C S Puttaraju, also a close associate of Ambareesh,” he recalls.

When he was issued the Congress ticket to contest from the Mandya Assembly segment, he gave up, paving the way for the JD(S) candidate, M Srinivas to win easily, he added.

“Ambareesh was a generous person, who helped a lot of people, personally. However, he did not use of the opportunities he got to help the people. He was made Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting in 1996. However, he did not attend his office at all. Finally, he resigned in 1998, citing injustice to the people of Karnataka, especially those of Mandya, in connection with the Cauvery River water sharing dispute with Tamil Nadu. Again in 2013, he was made State Minister for Housing. He had to be dropped for non-performance in 2016,” recalls a BJP leader.

A KPCC office-bearer said, the Congress in Mandya is in a state of disarray. “Ambareesh’s choice for district president C D Gangadhar is not adequate. Former minister Athmananda was made KPCC general secretary to keep him away from district politics. G Madegowda and H D Chowdaiah have grown old. S M Krishna has joined the BJP. N Chaluvaraswamy is trying to take control of the affairs of the party. The Congress workers are looking up to D K Shivakumar, from the neighbouring Ramanagar district. There are chances of Ramya returning,” he said.