'Sticking point?' BJP's call on Mandya seat in Karnataka keenly watched

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Sumalatha Ambareesh

Sitting Independent MP Sumalatha Ambareesh with Narendra Modi

Bengaluru: The BJP top brass' decision regarding the Mandya Lok Sabha seat is keenly awaited with party-backed sitting Independent MP Sumalatha Ambareesh and its alliance partner JD(S) both making a strong pitch for the ticket.


While JD(S) has conveyed to the BJP leadership that it wants to field its candidate, multilingual actress-turned-politician Sumalatha has also thrown her hat in the ring and wants to contest on a ticket from the national party.

JD(S) is firm on this seat--which is located between Bengaluru and Mysuru-- as the constituency is dominated by Vokkaligas, the community that forms its strong voter base. The party headed by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda has already conducted multiple rounds of meetings under its state President H D Kumaraswamy to decide on the candidate.

Incidentally in 2019, Sumalatha had defeated the then Chief Minister Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil, the joint candidate of Congress-JD(S) alliance in Mandya, known in Kannada as 'Sakkare Naadu' (land of sugar).


Mandya is known for its rivalry between Congress and JD(S) for supremacy. The BJP too over the years has been putting in efforts to make inroads here.

Sumalatha came into the picture in 2019 after the death of her husband and popular film star M H Ambareesh, who represented Mandya in the Lok Sabha.

In that election, she had defeated Nikhil Kumaraswamy of JD(S), Deve Gowda's grandson, by a huge margin of 1,25,876 votes.


However, BJP sources said that this time, the party may leave Mandya seat to its alliance partner, This is despite many local leaders supporting Sumalatha's candidacy from the party and opposing the move to give the seat to JD(S).

JD(S) has started firming up plans for Mandya; though there is pressure on H D Kumaraswamy to contest, former Minister and ex-MP C S Puttaraju might get the ticket, if the former chooses not to, party sources said.

Not wanting to comment much on who will get the Mandya ticket, Kumaraswamy has been maintaining that the BJP high command will announce the decision.


Sumalatha too has expressed confidence about getting the ticket from Mandya reposing faith with the BJP central leadership. She had earlier met the party's top brass including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and national President J P Nadda.

"The High Command (BJP) has to say, they have to make a decision. My decision, not to leave Mandya, is always strong," she has said.

Asked if she will contest, even if BJP denies her the ticket, she said, "Wait for a couple of days, maximum a week, everything will be before you. Let's speak then. My desire is to become a BJP MP." If BJP cedes Mandya seat to JD(S), it remains to be seen whether Sumalatha will contest as an independent once again, as she did in 2019, after Congress denied her the ticket and gave it to JD(S). Sumalatha rode on a sympathy wave following her husband's death.


Popular Kannada film stars like Darshan and Yash had campaigned for her then. Darshan has said he will campaign and support her this time too, addressing her as "mother".

Congress, banking on its guarantee schemes being implemented, has fielded Venkatarame Gowda (Star Chandru), a contractor, as its candidate from Mandya, despite opposition from within the party. Gowda is the brother of Independent MLA from Gauribidanur K H Puttaswamy Gowda, who backed the Congress in the recent Rajya Sabha polls.

Mandya has eight assembly segments, out of which six are represented by Congress, and one each by JD(S) and 'Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha'