MANDYA: Sumalatha for self-respect (Swabhimanakkaagi Sumalatha) is the slogan that is gripping Mandya in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. The affection for Ambareesh, the para-dropping of ‘outsider’ Nikhil Kumar as the Congress-JD(S)’ candidate, Sumalatha’s image as an educated, composed and dignified ‘daughter-in-law’ of Mandya, topped with JD(S) leaders taking turns to make personal attacks against the veteran actress, has seemingly moved an emotional electorate to side with Sumalatha this election season.
While the fight for Mandya is a matter of prestige for JD(S) which has fielded none other than the CM’s son in the fray, the local Congress leadership views Sumalatha’s candidature as a silver lining to save the party. With elections barely a month away, Mandya is soaking in the hype and clamour for Sumalatha, who is yet to decide if she will contest independently or on a party ticket.
Both Nikhil Kumar and Sumalatha Ambareesh are fighting legacy wars. While one hopes to cash in on his father’s image as a pro-farmer Chief Minister, the other is falling back on the affection and love Ambareesh enjoyed from the people of Mandya coupled with the sympathy they have for her. Given today’s scenario, Sumalatha seems to be winning the legacy war, hands down.
‘Insider versus outsider’ narrative
“WHY should the people of Mandya vote for an outsider when we have our own daughter-in-law contesting elections?” asked Puttaswamy J, a resident of Maddur, highlighting the ‘insider versus outsider’ narrative. The image of Nikhil Kumar being forced upon the people of Mandya despite the JD(S) having enough leaders locally is also spreading fast in the constituency. The tagline ‘Swabhimanakkagi Sumalatha’ is not just a fight to protect the dignity of Ambareesh’s wife and Mandya’s daughter-in-law, but also hopes to send a message that the electors will choose one among them instead of an outsider.
The JD(S) swept all eight assembly segments coming the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency in the 2018 assembly elections. Despite giving a clear victory to JD(S), the people of Mandya are today gearing up to give Sumalatha a chance — even if it means moving away from the JD(S).
“Even today if assembly polls are held, we will vote JD(S) back to power. But we want Sumalatha as our MP now. Remember this are the same people that defeated Ambareesh and Ramya. Now we want Ambareesh’s legacy to continue with Sumalatha,” said Chikkamayi Gowda, a native of Ambareesh’s village Doddarasinakere.
The personal attacks against her have only managed to bring Sumalatha more support from fans of Ambareesh, especially women. “She is one of us. I am a staunch JD(S) supporter, but this time we want a woman MP and if that MP is Ambareesh’s wife, what can be better,” said Lakshamamma whose family runs a small store in Doddarasinakere.
Nilekani in LS poll reckoning on BJP ticket?
The BJP is said to be considering Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani as one of its candidates in the Lok Sabha polls. Sources said that Nilekani, who contested against Ananthkumar in 2014 on a Congress ticket and lost by over 2.28 lakh votes, was indeed in the reckoning. The names of Mohandas Pai and Sudha Murty are also being considered.