Mandya, Karnataka, Apr 14 (IECurrentAffairs) Mandya Lok Sabha constituency in Karnataka, known as sugar bowl of the State is bracing itself to witness high-voltage poll battle between the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition candidate Nikhil K and independent candidate Sumalatha.
Polling in this segment will be held during the first phase Karnataka LS elections on April 18.
With young cinema actor Nikhil, son of chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, who is contesting as JD(S) candidate and senior actress Sumalatha, wife of late actor-tuned-politician Ambarish fighting it out in a neck and neck race, the battle lines have been drawn and an exciting finish is on the cards.
It is a high stakes battle for Kumaraswamy as a loss to his son would mean that his post as chief minister may get a jolt and even result in the wobbling coalition government face difficult situation, that may even end up in its fall.
BJP, which is giving outside support to Sumalatha say that the result which is in her favour may lead to the fall of the coalition government post May 23 counting of votes.
in all 22 candidates are in the fray with 17 lakh voters and polling on April 18 in the first of elections in the state .
Comprising eight Assembly segments — Malavalli, Maddur, Melkote, Mandya, Srirangapatna, Nagamangala and K.R. Pet in Mandya district, and Krishnarajanagar in Mysore district — the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency is considered a safe seat for the JD-S as it had won all the eight assembly segments in the 2018 Assembly polls.
But the equation is not the same in this bitterly fought battle as LS polls is a different ball game.
Mandya is also the home district of the former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna, now a BJP leader, is the reason why the electoral battle in the constituency is being keenly watched.
While Nikhil , the third generation of H D Deve Gowda, the JD(S) supremo and former PM family, is banking heavily on the name of his father Kumaraswamy, Sumalatha hopes to ride on the sympathy wave following the demise of Ambarish during November last year.
As per the seat-sharing deal between the coalition partners — JD(S) and Congress, the Mandya seat went to JD(S).
Mandya is a strong hold of JD (S), which had won the LS seat during 2014 and the byelection after sitting member C S Puttaraju was elected to the Assembly and became a minister in Kumaraswamy cabinet.
Ambarish, a native of Chikka Arasinakere in Maddur, has a large fan following in the district. His popularity as a film actor earned him a big fan following and Sumalatha is banking on the fans and followers of Ambarish to see her through in the LS polls.
As far as Nikhil is concerned, the plus point for him is that he is the son of CM and has the full support of all the eight MLAs falling under the LS segment, who all happen to be JD(S) Legislators. However, reluctance among Congress cadre to support him as the two parties remained bitter rivals until a few months ago may cause a flutter.
Kumaraswamy had also announced many doles for Mandya in the Budget presented by him in February last, which Nikhil hopes will be advantageous for him.
Kumaraswamy extensively canvassed for his son and is virtually camping in the district. However the crisis continued to with their coalition partners Congress leaders in the district refused to campaign for JD(S) nominee. This had resulted in as many as seven block Congress Presidents being suspended from the party. This may hurt JD-S as whole.
The the leaders of coalition partners however tried desperately to make amends and stem the disgruntlement by jointly campaigning with Devegowda and former chief minister and coordination chairman Siddaramiah making efforts, it remains to be seen whether the two parties will be able to pull off a result in favour of JD(S) as Sumalatha is gaining ground and receiving huge support from the voters.
The coalition partners also roped in with AICC president Rahul Gandhi to a election rally at K R Nagara to bring down the dissident activities.
Making a strong point Rahul warned the Congress workers to support the coalition candidate not only in Mandya but also all other JD(S) candidates including Devegowda who switched from his Hassan segment, allotted to his another grandson Prajwal Revanna, across the state. He also asked the JD-S workers to strive for the success of the Congress candidates and follow ‘Coalition Dharma’.
Although Sumalatha has the backing of the film Industry, she has drawbacks too and one of them is that she is contesting as an independent and not as a candidate of the Congress, which her late husband was associated with for long.
But Sumalatha has the tactic backing of BJP state unit president B S Yeddyurappa who also hails from the district and also prime minister Narendra Modi speaking kindly about the contributions made by Ambarish.
The election campaign has witnessed a battle of attrition and leaders of JD(S) including Kumaraswamy hitting out at Sumalatha. His brother and PWD minister Revanna was more scathing in his attack saying that why she should have contested an election within month of demise of her husband. This statement was condemned across the political spectrum.
The tag that he is an outsider and has no political experience, the controversial statements by JD(S) leaders against Sumalatha, may prove to be a hindrance for Nikhil, who is heavily banking on his father’s image and support from local JD(S) leaders.
Mandya district is considered the ‘heartland of Vokkaligas’. However, it is a fact that people from other backward classes (OBC), Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and minority communities will decide the fate of the candidates.
Vokkaligas command around 35 to 38 per cent of votes in Mandya. The agriculture and horticulture sector are ridden with problems in the constituency. Paddy, sugarcane, tobacco and coconut are major crops in the region.
This constituency has witnessed 18 elections since 1952 in which Congress candidates have won 13. M.K. Shivananjappa (Congress – 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967), S.M. Krishna (from the Praja Socialist Party in 1968 and from the Congress in 1971 and 1980), K. Chikkalingaiah (Congress – 1972 and 1979), K.V. Shankare Gowda (Janata Party – 1984), G. Made Gowda (Congress – 1989 and 1991), the former Speaker Krishna (Janata Dal – 1996), M.H. Ambareesh (from the Janata Dal in 1998, and from the Congress 1999 and 2004), N. Cheluvarayaswamy (JD-S – 2009) and Ramya (Congress – 2013) have won here.
After an interesting battle in the 2013 by-election, actor-turned-politician Ramya contested from the Congress and Puttaraju from JD(S). Ms. Ramya had defeated Mr. Puttaraju by 67,611 votes in 2013. However Puttaraju won the 2014 elections defeating Ms Ramya with small margin.
Mandya district, though a Vokkaliga heartland, the OBCs and SC-ST and minority votes may ultimately decide the result this time.