Rumours are prevalent that Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambareesh, who ran as an independent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, will most likely join the ruling BJP shortly as the Karnataka Assembly elections are only around the horizon.
In this context, Sumalatha had also met and spoken with former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna at his home in Bengaluru. On Monday, she also hosted a gathering of her close friends at her apartment in the city. It is significant to note that numerous of Sumalatha’s close associates have joined the saffron party over the previous two months.
BJP’s intention to bring in MP Sumalatha.
BJP seems determined to return to power on its own steam and is trying hard to get the backing of Vokkaliga. This dominant land-owning community have always stood firmly behind former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal-Secular (JDS).
The BJP has been attempting to woo Sumalatha into the party to gain the most seats possible in the Old Mysuru region, which includes Mandya, to a significant extent. As reported by PTI, several senior BJP figures, including ministers, have publicly encouraged her to join the party and made it known that she is now in talks with party officials.
It should be emphasised that the BJP, which in 2019 won 25 of Karnataka’s 28 Lok Sabha seats, has a small presence in the Mandya district. Because of this, the saffron party supported Sumalatha’s candidature and assured her victory, despite the support of some other parties. To defeat the son of H.D. Kumaraswamy and candidate for the JDS-Congress coalition, Nikhil, the BJP poured its weight behind her.
Sumalatha initially applied for a ticket from the Congress, the group for which her late husband Ambareesh had previously served as Mandya’s representative. Congress, however, declined to comply, claiming coalition requirements since it was required to give the JDS seat due to the seat-sharing agreement. At the time, a coalition government was in place in Karnataka, with Congress and JDS working together.
The JDS leadership and Kumaraswamy, who had earlier been close to Ambareesh, were upset when she later announced her candidature as an Independent. She posed a threat to them in their backyard, in their eyes.
How will the BJP benefit?
Sumalatha has been viewed as a significant player in Karnataka politics ever since she was elected. Her triumph in the historical heartland of JDS, the Mandya seat, was viewed as a significant upset. Her support base, comprising a sizable portion of Kannada-speaking people, has given her some political influence in the State.
However, determining Sumalatha’s effect on the BJP is challenging. Her candidature in Mandya would undoubtedly reduce JDS’s support. As a result, JDS will have a smaller winnability margin. Moreover, the BJP has specifically adopted this tactic.
Her affiliation with the party for the 2019 election was primarily caused by the decision of the BJP to assist her rather than field its candidate in Mandya. Sumalatha’s victory in the Mandya constituency helped the BJP and other parties that backed her campaign, but her influence on the BJP is likely limited.
M.H. Ambareesh, her late actor-turned-politician husband, was a prominent member of Congress and had served Mandya in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha. He served as a minister both in the State and at the Center. He had a huge fan base in the area, and people there referred to him affectionately as “Mandyada Gandu” (the man of Mandya).
JDS candidates won all seven regional seats in the 2018 Assembly elections. The BJP is weak here compared to Congress, its main rival. At the 2019 byelections, the saffron party, attempting to gain traction in the district, successfully won the K.R. Pet Assembly seat due to MLA Narayana Gowda’s JDS defection and subsequent enlistment. He currently serves as a minister in the Basavaraj Bommai administration.