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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Lok Sabha elections 2019: Sumalatha Ambareesh meets SM Krishna, sparks speculation of joining BJP

Election to the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency increasingly looks like a close fight, with veteran actor Sumalatha Ambareesh refusing to relent on her insistence on contesting the seat despite the Congress making it clear that it will not field a candidate.

lok-sabha-elections Updated:
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Sumalatha is the wife of the late Kannada film star and former union minister MH Ambareesh. On Friday, she met former chief minister and union minister SM Krishna, now a BJP member.
Sumalatha is the wife of the late Kannada film star and former union minister MH Ambareesh. On Friday, she met former chief minister and union minister SM Krishna, now a BJP member.(PTI)
         

Election to the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency increasingly looks like a close fight, with veteran actor Sumalatha Ambareesh refusing to relent on her insistence on contesting the seat despite the Congress making it clear that it will not field a candidate.

The Mandya seat is one of eight where the Congress will not field a candidate as part of its seat-sharing deal with coalition partner Janata Dal (Secular). The JD(S) announced Nikhil Kumar, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son, as its candidate.

Sumalatha is the wife of the late Kannada film star and former union minister MH Ambareesh. On Friday, she met former chief minister and union minister SM Krishna, now a BJP member, heightening interest in the constituency.

Addressing a media briefing, Sumalatha said that she was exploring her options now that the Congress would not field a candidate. She said she would reveal her decision on Monday.

“I did not come here in relation with his party, only to seek his blessings,” Sumalatha said, pointing out that this was because Krishna hailed from the district, too. “This meeting was due a long time ago and it is a courtesy visit,” she said.

Sumalatha said the Congress had let down its party workers and leaders by giving up the Mandya seat. “Congress workers are already supportive because of what is happening at the ground level as they are very unhappy with the party’s decision,” she added.

Over the past week, several BJP leaders have claimed that Sumalatha has been in touch with them and is considering the possibility of contesting on a BJP ticket. On the other hand, Congress leaders from the district have openly pledged their support to her if she decides to contest as an independent candidate.

Krishna said everything would depend on Sumalatha’s decision and that he would bring this to the party leadership’s notice. “Four days ago, BJP MLA R Ashok told me about this. The BJP had won 2.5 lakh votes in the Mandya byelection (in 2018). We had not expected this but we received it because of our candidate,” he said.

“Sumalatha has told me that she wants to contest from Mandya. I will discuss the matter with the BJP leadership and based on her decision, we will decide if we should field a candidate there or support her,” Krishna said.

In January, the election to the seat had seemed like a foregone conclusion as the JD(S) had won all assembly segments that fall within the Lok Sabha constituency in the state elections last year. The JD(S)’s local leaders had pressed the party to name Nikhil Kumar as its candidate.

Around this time, Congress workers from the district had also asked Sumalatha to contest as they were loathe to let the seat go to their local rivals and believed that she would have the sympathy of the people after the death of her husband Ambareesh in November.

Since then, despite senior Congress leaders, including former chief minister Siddaramaiah and current water resources minister DK Shivakumar making it clear that the party could not stake a claim to the seat, neither Sumalatha nor the party’s local workers have relented.

The personal attacks by JD(S) leaders, including public works minister HD Revanna, have only helped further consolidate the Congress workers’ support for the actor.

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