The poll picture in Mandya is more or less clear. The contest is going to be between chief minister HD Kumaraswamy’s actor-son Nikhil Kumaraswamy and former film star Sumalatha, the wife of popular actor-turned-politician, the late Ambareesh.
JD(S) national president HD Deve Gowda on Sunday announced his grandson’s candidature for Mandya, in the process clearly demarcating the political territories between the families of his two sons, the chief minister, and his minister-brother HD Revanna.
The latter’s son Prajwal Revanna will contest from Hassan, the seat currently held by Gowda. The presence of the two grandsons in the poll fray will mark the entry of the third generation of Gowda family into electoral politics.
Pressure is building up on Gowda to contest from the Mysuru-Kodagu seat, currently represented by Pratap Simha of the BJP. Gowda is likely to contest, but it is unclear from where.
Sumalatha’s late actor-husband hailed from Mandya, and many locals revered him as the pride of the district. The 55-year-old former actress said she is entering the fray responding to demands from her late husband’s fans who want her to continue with her husband’s legacy.
In fact, Kumaraswamy personally led the funeral procession and supervised the last rites when Ambareesh died in November last year.
The gesture was understandable as Ambareesh’s absence from the fray in the Assembly polls last May, and his keeping away from the Congress campaign helped the JD(S) sweep the entire Mandya district.
The CM and the JD (S) may have even assumed with Ambareesh’s death that his fans would switch to the JD(S) but that has not happened. Instead, sections of them have been furious after vandals have destroyed the yet-to-be-unveiled signboard at a road in Mandya that was to be officially named after Ambareesh.
The BJP, on the other hand, is said to be in favour of Sumalatha as its nominee. If she declines, will the party field its own candidate or just back her without fielding anyone to roil the JD (S) chances is the big question at the moment. The developments over the next couple of weeks should provide some clarity.