Karnataka Public Works Minister H.D. Revanna triggered a controversy on Friday, with his poser on how actor Sumalatha, who is aspiring to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Mandya, could enter the electoral fray within months of losing her husband, Kannada film actor and Congress leader M.H. Ambareesh.
The Janata Dal (S) intends fielding Nikhil, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s son and nephew of Mr. Revanna, from the same constituency.
Mr. Revanna’s remarks made in Delhi to a television channel quickly drew widespread condemnation, but the Minister refused to apologise and went on to suggest that Ms. Sumalatha, “who once did drama on screen is now doing the same in politics”. He also accused her of being “ungrateful” to Mr. Kumaraswamy for all his help after Ambareesh’s death.
Ms. Sumalatha responded to the comments with the assertion that such talk only reflected Mr. Revanna’s culture and they would not deter her. She said that she had great respect for JD(S) supremo, H.D. Deve Gowda, and it remained unchanged.
Embarrassed by the development, Mr. Kumaraswamy, who was in Delhi said he would advise his partymen in Mandya not to indulge in personal attacks against anyone. The Opposition BJP, meanwhile, has demanded an apology from Mr. Revanna. Ms. Sumalatha has been in touch with the BJP, even though she has said that she has no plans of joining that party.
Ms. Sumalatha’s entry into the fray is expected to make the going tough for Mr. Nikhil Kumaraswamy and the personal remarks could strengthen the “sympathy factor” in favour of the actor.
State chief ‘surprised’
However, JD(S) State president A.H. Vishwanath said he was “surprised” when he learnt about the remarks made by Mr. Revanna who had learnt the nuances of politics from Mr. Deve Gowda.
In the Congress, most top leaders did not react to the controversy. Vice-president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee B.L. Shankar said Mr. Revanna’s remarks were “most uncharitable.”
He said the remarks could prove counter-productive. “The coalition partner should be extra careful and one should not indulge in personal attacks,” he said.
BJP leaders, including Shobha Karandlaje, Tejaswini Gowda, and Malavika Avinash criticised Mr. Revanna for his remarks and demanded his apology.
In Hubballi, senior BJP leader Jagadish Shettar said the Minister should have used restrained language. He said Ms. Sumalatha’s decision to enter electoral fray from Mandya had created ripples in the JD(S) circles.