Lok Sabha elections: Kumaraswamy seeks Sumalatha’s support in Mandya amid BJP’s promise of post-election role to her

The appeal by Kumaraswamy for cooperation from the sitting Mandya MP came amidst shifting alliances and uncertainties in the constituency.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Apr 01, 2024 | 8:00 AMUpdatedApr 01, 2024 | 8:00 AM

JD(S) state chief and former CM HD Kumaraswamy called on Mandya incumbent MP Sumalatha Ambareesh in Bengaluru on Sunday, 31 March, 2024.

Amidst the unfolding political drama in Karnataka’s Mandya constituency, JD(S) state chief and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy paid an unexpected visit to incumbent MP Sumalatha Ambareesh and sought her cooperation for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in the seat.

The appeal by Kumaraswamy, who is filing papers on 4 April, for cooperation from the sitting Mandya MP came against the backdrop of shifting alliances and electoral uncertainties in the constituency.

The JD(S)-BJP alliance has left Sumalatha running from one party leader to another with no resolution for her plight yet: She is also undecided about her candidacy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Adding to the intrigue, the BJP leadership is said to have assured Sumalatha of a promising post-election future, acknowledging her sacrifices and contributions to the Mandya seat.

Amidst these developments, Sumalatha stated she would announce her final decision about her candidacy from Mandya on 3 April after consulting and collecting the opinions of her well-wishers, supporters, and fans.

Lok Sabha polls: JD(S) to field former CM HD Kumaraswamy in Mandya

Seeking cooperation of ‘sister’

Kumaraswamy sprung a surprise of sorts by turning up at the residence of Sumalatha Ambareesh — wife of actor-turned-politician Ambareesh — in Bengaluru.

The former chief minister is contesting from Mandya in the 26 April Lok Sabha election phase in Karnataka.

Stating that it was a courtesy meeting, Kumaraswamy told reporters: “Ambareesh’s house is not new to me. We lived together for several years. I am filing the nominations for the Mandya Lok Sabha seat on 3 April.”

He added: “I had come to their home to seek the sister’s cooperation. We have discussed several issues. Their well-wishers and fans held a primary meeting on Saturday. She said that she would announce her decision after meeting with her well-wishers and supporters in Mandya on 3 April.”

He further said: “She has kept a cordial relationship with BJP as well. BJP supported her in the last elections. The BJP high command and [the party’s Karnataka unit chief BY] Vijayendra have also held talks with her.”

Kumaraswamy also said: “We discussed everything openly. But I cannot disclose that here. There are no qualms. There were no demands.”

Related: Will decide future course of action after talking to supporters, says Sumalatha

Sumalatha’s decision

Meanwhile, Sumalatha Ambareesh told reporters after the meeting: “A healthy discussion was held. He [Kumaraswamy] told me not to keep old differences in mind. We also discussed the future course [of action]. It was a healthy discussion.”

She confirmed that he also sought her cooperation, and added: “I openly told him that I cannot make any decision without consulting or taking the nod of my supporters and followers.”

She continued: “In response, he said that he understands the situation. He also asked me to keep in mind the opinions of my well-wishers. I said I would announce my decision in Mandya on 3 April.”

Asked whether Kumaraswamy requested her not to contest from Mandya, Sumalatha said: “Neither of us spoke about my candidacy. Now, he is the candidate. He stressed on everyone working towards strengthening the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

She added: “I also need to hold another round of talks with BJP. I will announce my decision after that.”

On Kumaraswamy turning up at her house, she said: “I had no political experience before 2019. Politics has taught me some lessons in the last five years. There is no question that politics is a game of chess.”

She added: “There will be changes. I have been trying to keep my word from Day One. There will be no changes in my words or my stand. I have to decide for the welfare and future of the people.”

Also Read: BJP resolves dissent in all but Shimoga, Raichur seats in Karnataka

BJP assurances

Meanwhile, the BJP high command is said to have promised Sumalatha a good post and position at the Centre after the Lok Sabha elections.

After winning as an independent candidate from Mandya in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Sumalatha Ambareesh orally announced her support to BJP, but has yet to officially join the saffron party.

She had met the BJP central leadership — including Modi and incumbent Union Home Minister Amit Shah — over her future in Mandya.

Despite being hopeful of getting a ticket, Sumalatha was gutted after the BJP high command gave the seat to alliance partner JD(S) as a part of the seat-sharing equation.

With Congress also declaring its candidate, Sumalatha’s candidacy for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections appears to be slim.

Meanwhile, a BJP senior leader told South First on condition of anonymity: “The state president has conveyed the high command’s message to Sumalatha. The party high command has promised Sumalatha that she will not be meted injustice for her sacrifice and cooperation in Mandya. The party has recognised her contributions as well.”

He added: “She has been assured of a good post either at the Centre or at the state after the Lok Sabha elections. She has been requested to extend her support to the NDA candidate.”

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)