The burden of being out of power for over 10 years, feuding family members, disgruntled party workers and the inability to find appropriate candidates to fill 224 seats has landed JD(S) in a soup. With party leaders quitting for better prospects, JD(S) has now stepped up its game. In a relief to the party, Kumaraswamy may have finally managed to secure the support of Sandalwood actor Sudeep.
On Monday, JD(S) President HD Kumaraswamy and his wife Anitha invited Sudeep to their residence in Bengaluru and held talks.
Party insiders say that although Sudeep declined Kumaraswamyâ€™s offer to contest polls from a JD(S) ticket, he offered to campaign alongside the JD(S) candidates in many seats, especially in Chitradurga and Davangere areas.
â€śInitially we had issued a list of 128 candidates. We have not been able to find candidates for the rest of the 96 seats. MLC CR Manohar had persuaded Kumaraswamy to invite Sudeep to join the party with the hopes of getting more candidates to contest from a JD(S) ticket. JD(S) could use Sudeepâ€™s help,â€ť the source said.
According to a source close to party supremo Deve Gowda, JD(S) needs votes from the Valmiki Nayak community. Currently the votes of this community are divided between Congress and BJP while the JD(S) has absolutely no votes from this community. With Sudeep belonging to the Valmiki Nayak community, the JD(S) hopes to further split the votes.
â€śIn North Karnataka, the Valmiki Nayak community has a large presence. Congress has Satish Jarkiholi, Ramesh Jarkiholi and many others from this community. The BJP has Sriramulu in Ballari, Raju Gowda and Balachandra Jarkiholi from this community and JD(S) has none. Hence it would help to shake the votes of this community if Sudeep campaigns along with the JD(S) candidate,â€ť the source added.
According to JD(S) insiders, the party has faced a severe blow ever since 7 rebel leaders quit the party to join the Congress. Sudeepâ€™s uncle â€“ Sarovar Srinivas was also one among those who defected from the JD(S).
â€śSarovar Srinivas had been with the JD(S) for a long time even when Siddaramaiah was with our party. He and Siddaramaiah are very close. The JD(S) tried to bargain with Srinivas but he left because of misunderstanding with the high command. Now Kumaraswamy wants Sudeep to express support to JD(S) as the actor has the ability to influence youth votes,â€ť the source said.
According to party sources, JD(S) MLC CR Manohar, who is also producing Sudeepâ€™s upcoming film Villain persuaded the actor to offer his support to JD(S).
â€śManohar and Sudeep have been friends for nearly two decades. Sudeep had also supported Manohar when he had filed his nomination papers to contest the MLC elections from Kolar-Chikkaballapura constituency in 2015,â€ť the source said.
When Sudeep called Kumaraswamy to greet him on his birthday on December 16, Manohar is said to have prompted the actor into inviting the JD(S) leader over for lunch. Kumaraswamy, who was quick to accept the invitation, visited Sudeep the very next day and pitched that he should consider joining the JD(S) and contest the elections.
However, it is not only JD(S) that Sudeep may offer his support to. The actor is said to be close friends with BJP leader Raju Gowda, who is all set to contest elections from Surapura constituency. â€śRaju Gowda and Sudeep have been friends for decades now. He will be supporting the BJP also and not only JD(S). Although both the BJP and JD(S) invited him to contest elections, he refused the offers and said that he does not want to directly be involved in politics,â€ť sources said.
Manohar told DH that JD(S) is hopeful that the actor will consider the partyâ€™s invitation. â€śSudeep and I are like brothers and it is true that I facilitated the meeting. Though he has no interest in foraying into politics, we are hoping that he will change his mind and join the party. If he ever comes to politics, he should join JD(S), and no other party,â€ť he said.
Manohar said that the JD(S) will get a major boost if Sudeep decides to contest elections. The actor is yet to announce his decision.
The JD(S) hopes that Sudeep, like his uncle Sarovar Srinivas, will choose the regional party, if and when he enters politics. Srinivas was elected as an MLC twice on a JD(S) ticket.
It can be recalled that Kumaraswamy had asked voters in Mandya last year during the panchayat elections to â€śrejectâ€ť actors entering politics and recognise only those persons who work for the welfare of the people. Both Kumaraswamy and Sudeep were not available for comment.