Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil was defeated by independent candidate Sumalatha by 1,25,876 votes in Mandya. The electoral battle for this district 100 km away from Bengaluru was a matter of prestige for Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, since it was JD(S)’ bastion, and it was also a test of the unity of the coalition government.
Sumalatha, who is the widow of actor and former MP Ambareesh, was denied a ticket by the Congress party citing their promise to give the seat to their coalition partner JD(S). She subsequently contested as an Independent.
The JD(S) expected that a transfer of vote from the Congress and JD(S)’ influence in the region would ensure a smooth political debut for the Nikhil. However, many Congress leaders and workers in the district had rebelled against the party over its decision to deny Sumalatha a ticket.
This sympathy wave in her favour is said to have ensured her victory.
In Mandya constituency, between 2014 and 2019 general elections, the voter turnout had increased by 8.7%. In terms of number of voters, this change resulted in 1,50,244 new voters, indicating a wave in the constituency. Political analysts and party leaders are divided over whom the wave benefits in Mandya. However, the mandate has now made it clear that the wave was in Sumalatha’s favour.
The counting in Mandya was nothing short of a thriller with both the candidates fighting neck-to-neck. During afternoon, the lead oscillated between both candidates – at least seven within a span of half an hour.
Even the margins were narrow. In the afternoon, the vote difference between both candidates remained in a range of 600-2,000 votes. However, by evening Sumalatha took a decisive lead in the competition and ensured her victory with over 1 lakh votes.
The Other Sumalathas
Three other candidates in Mandya, all named Sumalatha, won 20,510 votes. Sumalatha had claimed that her namesakes were fielded by the JD(S) to confuse the voters and take votes away from her.
Although in the final vote tally these numbers didn’t matter since Sumalatha won with a comfortable margin of 1.25 lakh votes, when the result was going neck-to-neck, these votes had become a topic of discussion.
While margin between the two candidates kept changing between 1,000 to 2,000, Mandya polls observed a peculiar development. Three candidates named Sumalatha had won more votes than the margin of difference between Sumalatha and Nikhil.
But at the end of the day, a sympathy wave won the election in Mandya over the cadre strength and coalition equation.