I will fight this election for my father, says Ramya
By Sowmya Aji | ENS | Published: 17th August 2013 11:34 AM |
“You people are my father, mother, friends and family. Haalu kudistiro, neer nal haaktiro, nim kayyalide (Whether you feed me milk or throw me in the water, the choice is in your hands). I am asking you all, as a daughter of this district, to give me a new life,” she says, with folded hands.
She quotes a few lines, which she says are by the 12th century poet-philosopher Basavanna, to back this. The audience at her public meetings erupts in cheers and whistles.
Her 12-year career as a top heroine has taught Ramya (Divya Spandana on the ballot paper), the Congress candidate in the byelection to the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency on Wednesday, the importance of dialogue delivery and image. And the recent questions by a local leader, M Srinivas, of the JD(S), the main opposition in the district, about her biological father and caste have come as a godsend for the Congress, which is out to milk every angle to ensure victory.
Everyone from former union minister S M Krishna to a Gram Panchayat member Kempu Gowda, came down heavily on this insult to a mannina magalu (daughter of the soil, while the audience, which includes a large number of minorities, shout, “Don’t worry Ramya and don’t feel bad!”
Ramya’s foster father R T Narayan’s death within minutes of her filing the nomination for the byelection has caught people’s sympathy. So, the Diva Diva girl of the Kannada film Johnny Mera Naam is now Ramya akka to the people.
“I lost my father and along with that, the will to do anything more in my life. But my father wanted me to fight this election. I am here to keep my word to him and to the party. My grandfather G S Bore Gowda was from here and was a former member of the municipal council. I am also from here. I will bow to your wishes and do my best to do whatever the people ask of me,” she says.
The fierce Ramya that the film industry is familiar with is not to be seen. She is soft-voiced and simplicity itself, dressed in a beige cotton saree with a pretty black border, a high-necked blouse, diamond studs, regular orange and green grass bangles, with flowers in her hair.
She reaches out to every child and every woman she can spot, waves to the men, smiles at everyone and speaks with concern to partyworkers and her staff. At Maddur, Krishna arrives for the meeting ahead of Ramya and puts his entire battery of old-time supporters on the stage as a sign of “unity.” When Ramya does arrive, breathless from touring the villages, he solicitously blesses her. Krishna then makes a polished speech studded with sparkling sarcasm as he takes on the JD(S) and its leader, his old rival H D Deve Gowda. The district is currently a JD(S) stronghold, and its candidate C S Puttaraju is expected to win. But Krishna knows exactly what swipes will work with the audience.
At Pandavapura, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader and local MLA K S Puttanaiah takes her out on a roadshow. Questions on the Cauvery river dispute, she carefully avoids. But she has all Mandya statistics and lore at her fingertips. “I have studied the trends in the district, I know where my opponent is strong and where I have a chance,” she says.
She snaps out names of villages on the route and says: “That is the route, correct?” Then she beams and adds: “Pandavapura is where Kunti stayed, that is why it has this name.”
The villagers shake their heads, awed at her presence, both touched and amused by her. “She is a film star, so her fans will vote for her,” says Puttamanjamma (75) at Kannalu village.
2009 results for Mandya Lok Sabha
N Cheluvarayaswamy alias Swamy Gowda (JD-S)-3,84,443 votes
M H Ambareesh (Congress) - 3,60,943 votes
L R Shivarame Gowda (BJP) - 1,44,875 votes
The campaign trail
The Youth Congress was out campaigning in full force, as Ramya’s candidature was proposed by them. And she has the blessings of their “Boss” Rahul Gandhi.
Ministers from North Karnataka and coastal Karnataka are managing the elections in assembly segments in Mandya. The locals are often left scratching their heads over their “incomprehensible” Kannada!
Hit songs from Ramya’s films, like Sanju Mattu Geetha and Gaganave Baagi is being released with election related lyrics. All her posters for the election, however, have her in a deglamourised look.