Sumalatha Ambareesh Goes Up Against Kumaraswamy’s Son Nikhil Gowda

Sumalatha, widow of ex-Congress MP, will run as an independent against the Karnataka Chief Minister’s son in Mandya.

4 min read
Kannada actor and former Congress MP MH Ambareesh’s wife Sumalatha has become roadblock for CM Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil Gowda in Mandya. 

Putting an end to the speculation around her candidature, Kannada actor and former Congress MP MH Ambareesh’s wife Sumalatha, on Monday, 18 March, announced she will be contest as an independent from Mandya.

She announced her decision at a press conference in Bengaluru and said she would file her nomination on 20 March from Mandya.

Sumalatha has become a roadblock for the Gowda family, which is preparing to launch its youngest member and Chief Minister Kumaraswamy’s son, Nikhil Gowda. 

She was initially expected to get a ticket from the Congress party, however, the Mandya seat was given to the JD(S) during coalition seat-sharing negotiations. It was after the Congress denied support to the JD(S) that Sumalatha stood her ground, saying she would contest from Mandya.


‘I Expected Congress to Put Up a Fight For the People of Mandya’

Sumlatha, along with actors Yash and Darshan, during the press conference in Bengaluru. 
Sumlatha, along with actors Yash and Darshan, during the press conference in Bengaluru. 
(Photo: The Quint)

She said he wanted to contest from the Congress party, because her husband contested from a Congress ticket.

“But I was told they (the Congress) were not in a situation to give me the seat. I expected the Congress to put up a fight; not for me, but many party workers and supporters of Ambareesh, who are facing an identity crisis.”
Sumalatha Ambareesh

She said many Congress workers in Mandya are facing a existential crisis. She said it is an open secret that many supporters of Ambareesh are not happy and many of the Congress workers fear they will be wiped out of Mandya because of the alliance with JD(S).

‘People Wanted Me to Contest’

Sumalatha said as she didn’t have the political experience her husband did, she conducted public meetings with her husband’s followers and came to her decision based on their inputs.

“I traveled across Mandya, asking people what they thought about [me contesting]. They told me that they will never let go of the love they have for Ambareesh and me taking over a post left behind by Amabareesh would be good for them.”
Sumalatha Ambareesh 

Claiming that not contesting the election would be against her integrity, she said, “ If I don’t contest the election without listening to them, I wouldn’t be able to call myself Ambareesh’s wife. Some may not like it and it may favour some (party). But, I have come to this decision for the people of Mandya and their love,” she said.

CM, Son Nikhil Gowda React to Candidacy Announcement

“A lot of people from the film industry are suddenly coming forward to work for the welfare of the people. It's good, let them come. Let us see how much good they are able to do from Mandya,” the CM told media persons upon hearing the news.

His son, Nikhil Gowda, set to be Sumalatha’s primary competitor said that he would try his best to carry forward his father’s legacy in Mandya.

“It is good (that she is standing). The people of Mandya know what all CM Kumaraswamy has done, they love and trust him. I am also going to try my best to earn the same love and trust in the coming days,” he said.


Star Power Fuelling the Campaign

A number of Kannada film actors could be seen sharing the stage with Sumalatha on Monday at her press conference that in turn attracted a large crowd of adoring fans, cheering at every pause.

‘Rocking Star’ Yash, Darshan and TN Venkatesh or ‘Rockline Venkatesh’ as he is popularly known, were present in her support even causing her to comment at one point, “I have my Rocking Boy on one side and Darshan on the other.”

Addressing the palpable curiosity of those present, Yash, star of the recent blockbuster KGF said that they were present as her children, not as film stars.

“People are curious why she is surrounded by two stars. The fact is, Mandya knows what Ambareesh was made of, he has taken care of them for so many years without any complaints. The people know him for what he is. I have always been treated like a son of the family. It is like a household decision, we will do what our mother says,” said Yash

Concurring, Darshan also said that he had supported Ambareesh and his family through three Assembly elections and one Lok Sabha poll.

“Voters will not vote based on sympathy, they will see her performance. Despite being actors, we don’t have the authority to dictate how fans should vote, we will only request them to vote for someone who will be the best for Mandya.” he said.

‘Have Not Spoken to BJP’

Talking about the statements made by BJP leader supporting her, Sumalataha said she is aware of these statements only from the media and hasn’t spoken to the BJP.

When asked if she will support the Congress-JD(S) alliance or BJP if she wins the election, Sumalataha said she will leave that decision to the people of Mandya.

A Long-Pending Decision

Following Ambareesh’s death in November 2018, fans and followers had requested Sumalatha to contest. Although she initially kept her silence on the matter, Sumalatha made her decision to enter politics clear when she met Congress legislative party leader Siddaramaiah late in February.

She strengthened her resolve to enter public life when she met the family of a Pulwama martyr from Mandya and offered land for his last rites.

In the first week of March, Kumaraswamy announced his son Nikhil Gowda’s entry into politics. He also made it clear that the party will not let go of the Mandya seat, which was held by the JD(S) after Ambareesh retired from politics.

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