With a pre-poll alliance in place with once arch-rivals Congress, the first family of the JD(S) might have thought that the 2019 Lok Sabha polls are the best time to launch the political careers of the third generation of the family. But as things stand for both of Deve Gowda’s grandsons Nikhil Gowda and Prajwal Revanna, getting into Lok Sabha is now no longer just a question of formality.
In Mandya, where Nikhil Gowda is supposed to be contesting, an unprecedented challenge comes in the form of Sumalatha, an actor and late Congress minister and actor Ambareesh’s wife. Making it official on Monday, Sumalatha said she will contest from Mandya as an independent after being denied a Congress ticket.
Political observers believe that the popularity the rebel star used to enjoy in his home turf will surely pose a challenge for rookie politician Nikhil. And especially in the backdrop of her husband’s death and her own popularity, Sumalatha will be a formidable candidate to beat for debutante Nikhil despite the JD(S)’s widespread grassroots presence in the region.
Moreover, support from Sandalwood starts Yash, Sudeep, and Darshan – who themselves enjoy massive popularity in the region – will work to the JD(S)’s disadvantage.
Ambareesh had a huge following in Mandya's Malavalli, KR Pete, Pandavapura, and Nagamangala areas.
On the other hand, the JD(S) has a presence across the district but more so in Mandya town, Maddur, and Srirangapattana. In fact, the JD(S) had managed to win all eight assembly segments in Mandya during the 2018 state elections. JD(S) insiders say that although Congress party workers, actors, and several farmers' associations are supporting Sumalatha, she still has to fight the power that former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and his party hold in the region.
“This is obviously not good news for the alliance, now the BJP will obviously not put a strong candidate or even a candidate at all. BJP does not have any special love for Sumalatha, but they want to ensure to defeat the alliance,” noted political analyst Sandeep Shastri said.
In Vokkaliga stronghold Hassan, from where HD Deve Gowda has won four times, Prajwal Revanna, who is the son of PWD Minister HD Revanna, was also hoping for an easy win.
But with A Manju, a former minister in the Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government, joining the BJP, Prajwal is posed an unprecedented challenge. Manju who has been vocal about his displeasure with HD Deve Gowda leaving the seat for his grandson, finally re-joined the BJP on Sunday after days of speculations.
Although 3-time MLA Manju lost the recent Assembly elections from Arakalgudu seat in the district by a margin of 10,000-plus votes, he is likely to be the BJP’s choice of candidate. Moreover, his son Manthar Gowda, who is a zilla panchayat member, has strong clout within the Youth Congress ranks. In the coming days, Manthar might also officially join the BJP. Combined with, the growing popularity of Hassan’s BJP MLA Preetham Gowda, all these factors will play against the JD(S).
However, Shastri said, “Although this will make the fight a little interesting, I don’t think this is enough to penetrate the JD(S)’s fortress. Hassan is one of the few foregone conclusions.”