Alliance partners Congress and the JD(S) may be headed for a standoff with neither wanting to cede the Mandya Lok Sabha seat. Mandya, currently represented by the JD(S), is located in the Vokkaliga heartland where the regional party claims to hold sway. On Thursday, the Congress cadre from Mandya did not relent even as party leaders Siddaramaiah, G Parameshwara and Dinesh Gundu Rao tried convincing them otherwise. The leadership met the party folk from the Old Mysuru region where the rivalry between the Congress and the JD(S) is the stuff of legend.
The JD(S) has already staked a claim on Mandya by planning to field Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil. The claim is also based on the fact that the JD(S) holds all seven Assembly seats there. But local Congress leaders N Cheluvarayaswamy, P M Narendra Swamy, K B Chandrashekar, Madhu Madegowda, Ramesh Bandisiddegowda and H C Balakrishna told the leadership not to let go of the seat at any cost. They proposed Sumalatha, wife of late actor-turned-politician Ambareesh, be fielded there. Apparently, they have threatened not to campaign for Nikhil. “We have insisted that the Congress itself field the candidate from Mandya. Yes, it is true that there is a lot of pressure from the workers that Sumalatha be fielded from the constituency.
The workers are adamant that somebody from Ambareesh’s family be given an opportunity. We are however yet to reach out to Sumalatha,” Cheluvarayaswamy told reporters. It is unlikely that the JD(S) will yield to Congress’ demand. But the Congress leaders are hoping that they can play the sentimental card and coerce the JD(S), given that Ambareesh enjoyed close ties with the regional party too. Sources said that if Sumalatha enters the fray, Nikhil may withdraw from the race, as the JD(S) wouldn’t risk campaigning against Sumalatha. Hassan Congress leaders, too, want the party to keep the Hassan Lok Sabha seat, which JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda wants to vacate to make way for his grandson Prajwal.
“The fight between the Congress and the JD(S) is a direct one in Mandya, Hassan, Mysore and Tumkur. There are problems at the local level and they need to be solved. Rahul Gandhi has a vision, which led to this coalition. So, whatever the problems are, we will accept them for the party’s sake,” Rao told reporters.