Campaign for Mandya seat in Karnataka intensifies

Bengaluru: Karnataka’s ruling coalition allies, the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the Congress, are engaged in an intense engagement over the seat-sharing arrangement in the state, particularly in the JD-S stronghold of Mandya.

While JD-S leader and Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s son and Kannada actor Nikhil Gowda has said the party leadership agreed to field him from the Mandya Lok Sabha seat, Sumalatha, multi-lingual actress and the widow of late Congress leader M.H. Ambareesh, has expressed her wish to contest from the constituency on a Congress ticket.

Ambareesh was Congress member of the Lok Sabha from Mandya. He passed away in November last year. The seat is currently represented by L.R. Shivarame Gowda of the JD-S.

While JD-S supremo H.D. Deve Gowda had said he had given his “consent” to 29-year-old Nikhil for contesting from the seat, Congress leader Siddaramaiah ruled out fielding Sumalatha as its candidate from Mandya, as it would be contested by the JD-S.

However, Sumalatha has been campaigning across the district and said she was ready to contest even as an Independent from Mandya.

Stating that irrespective of the party, she wants to “serve the people of Mandya”, the 55-year-old actress with over 200 films in Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi to her credit, said she would announce her decision on contesting the Lok Sabha polls on March 18.

Congress leaders in the district, however, are reportedly not keen on supporting Nikhil’s candidature.

The coalition allies are yet to announce their seat-sharing strategy and candidates for the Lok Sabha elections to be held in the southern state in two phases — on April 18 for 14 seats and on April 23 for another 14 seats.

After the Congress did not extend support to Sumalatha, speculations are rife that the BJP may offer her the ticket for the seat.

If she contests as an Independent and Nikhil is fielded as the JD-S candidate, the seat will witness a battle between film stars of two generations.