As Lok Sabha polls approach, the Congress and JD(S) are now bickering for seats in the Old Mysuru region. Amidst the disagreement over seat sharing, the Congress is now facing another dilemma – should the Mandya Lok Sabha ticket be given to Sumalatha?
Sumalatha, the wife of late veteran actor and former Congress MLA Ambareesh, held talks with Congress Legislative Party leader Siddaramaiah on Thursday. Speaking to the media after the meeting, Sumalatha said that the people of Mandya and fans of Ambareesh want her to contest elections from Mandya and she has requested the Congress to offer her a ticket.
Despite Sumalatha's aspirations and the huge following she has in Mandya, the question is – will the Congress risk its alliance with JD(S) to give her a ticket?
Sources close to JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda and those in the Congress say that the alliance partners will not offer Sumalatha a Congress ticket. "KPCC President Dinesh Gundu Rao, DK Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah, Deputy CM Dr G Parameshwara and others in the party have held talks with Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy. The Congress has agreed that Mandya Lok Sabha ticket will be offered to a JD(S) candidate. There is no way Sumalatha will get a Congress ticket," the JD(S) source said.
JD(S) insiders also say that Sumalatha's meeting with Siddaramaiah has angered many of her supporters in Mandya, who are now rethinking offering her their support. "When Ambareesh was the Minister for Housing in 2013, it was because of Siddaramaiah that he was dropped from the Cabinet. Ambareesh's supporters are backing Sumalatha and now they, too, are rethinking. She should have approached Deve Gowda and asked for a JD(S) ticket instead of going to the Congress. Deve gowda would have supported her if she had gone to him first," the JD(S) source added.
Sumalatha is also set to meet CM HD Kumaraswamy on Sunday, sources say, to discuss her candidacy from Mandya. "There are a lot of aspirants for the Mandya ticket. Bhavani Revanna, Energy Minister HD Revanna's wife, is also an aspirant for the Mandya ticket. Deve Gowda is not giving her the ticket and neither will Nikhil Gowda get the ticket. There has already been a lot of talk about dynasty politics and Deve Gowda is fed up of it and is adamant that no one but Prajwal Revanna will get a ticket from his family to contest Lok Sabha polls. When this is the case, why did she not approach JD(S)? Besides, now she is meeting Kumaraswamy, especially after many JD(S) leaders have been disappointed with her move to approach Congress first," the source said.
JD(S) insiders say that several party leaders and workers do not want LR Shivarame Gowda to be nominated for the second time. The JD(S), sources say, is watching out for Sumalatha's next move in order to determine which candidate the coalition must field.
"Congress will not give her a ticket. See, there are two options now. If she decides to contest as an independent, then former IAS officer Lakshmi Ashwin Gowda will be fielded against her as the coalition's candidate. JD(S) really does not want to field Shivarame Gowda. Lakshmi is a strong candidate and has built up a support base in the last two years. If Sumalatha does not contest, Shivarame Gowda will remain," a JD(S) source said.
JD(S) insiders also said that the Congress is not willing to give the JD(S) 12 tickets to contest the Lok Sabha polls but is adamant that the party would get only six. "When this is the case, why will JD(S) waste its ticket on Sumalatha? Besides, Deve Gowda is planning to meet Rahul Gandhi next week. He also spoke with KD Venugopal today (Friday) over the phone. Deve Gowda is willing to settle for eight seats. But Siddaramaiah does not want to give JD(S) anything more than six. These include Mysuru, Mandya, Hassan, Bidar, Shivamogga and Kolar-Chikkaballapura," the source added.