Mandya is fast emerging as the constituency to look out for in Karnataka. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s filmstar son Nikhil is making his political debut as the Janata Dal (Secular) candidate against veteran star Sumalatha, the 55-year-old widow of the late Kannada star and Congress leader Ambarish.
Congress leaders tried hard to dissuade Sumalatha from contesting, but she is now fighting as an Independent. And a section of Congress leaders are supporting her in defiance of the party. Caught in the crossfire are Kannada superstars Yash and Darshan, who are campaigning for Sumalatha.
While miscreants damaged Darshan’s home in Bengaluru, Yash has been provided police security. The contest has divided the Kannada film industry, with a majority of actors rallying behind Sumalatha.
The BJP has also declared its support for her. Mandya is considered a hotbed of politics in the Cauvery basin, with the Vokkaligas, the second-largest community in Karnataka, dominating the region.
Both the Congress and JD(S) have represented Mandya in Parliament. The contest seems evenly set, but the JD(S) has declared it will win the election hands down.