Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Mandya to inaugurate the 10-lane Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway, independent MP Sumalatha Ambareesh on Friday extended her full Msupport to the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre.
The actor-turned-politician, who remained a neutral MP till now, also said the decision was taken in view of the stability given to India and the reputation India earned across the globe under the leadership of PM Modi.
Sumalatha, who represents Mandya constituency in the Lok Sabha, also promised that so long as she is in politics, her son Abhishek will never venture into politics, for she is against the dynastic politics.
"After consulting my well-wishers and supporters, I have arrived at a decision. On this day, I am extending my full support to Narendra Modi government at the Centre," the wife of iconic Kannada actor late Ambareesh said in a press conference.
She said after four years as an independent MP and facing numerous challenges, especially obstacles in holding public meetings, she realised that she needed a support.
"People can draw their conclusions but I have faith in the leadership of Narendra Modi, who is admired across the globe," Sumalatha said.
She also said it is an honour for Mandya that the Prime Minister of the country was visiting the district to inaugurate the expressway.
"The Prime Minister could have chosen to inaugurate it either in Mysuru or Bengaluru but he opted for Mandya, which shows the importance of the district," the MP said.
The Lok Sabha member clarified that the move is aimed at the overall development of Mandya, which according to her, is suffering from a vitiated atmosphere.
The BJP welcomed Sumalatha's move and said this will help the party strengthen its base in the old Mysuru region, which remains a Congress and the JD(S) bastion.
"Sumalatha's decision to support the BJP after accepting the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the development works of the BJP, will strengthen the party," BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel said in a statement.
He added that Sumalatha took the decision after taking into account the BJP at the Centre and State carrying out various development works in Mandya including the 10-lane Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway.
In an apparent attack on the JD(S), Sumalatha slammed those "who have turned Mandya into their political citadel and did nothing for the district." "There is a need for change in Mandya. A vitiated atmosphere has been created here. Let's carry out a 'Swachch Bharat Mission' here in Mandya first," Sumalatha said.
The decision came just two days before Modi's visit to the district. The BJP had backed the MP during the Lok Sabha election in 2019, which resulted in her victory defeating the sitting Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil.
Sumalatha was in touch with the BJP leadership for almost a year and for the past few days, there were several rounds of talks with her.
On Thursday as well, she had a long discussion with the BJP national president J P Nadda when he was in Bengaluru as part of his 'Vijaya Sankalpa Yatra.' It had become clear that she would join the BJP but everyone was curious to know the terms and conditions in which she would join the BJP.
Speculations were rife that she would seek a ticket for her son Abhishek from a safe constituency in the upcoming Assembly elections.
There were also rumours that she would contest from Bengaluru. However, the MP ruled out both the possibilities.
Sumalatha also promised that as long as she is in politics, her son Abhishek will never venture into politics.
"I will not promote dynastic politics. So long as I am in politics, my son will not venture into this profession. This is the oath I swear by Goddess Chamundeshwari (the deity of Mysuru)," she added.
Taking a dig at the JD(S) and other political parties where families are promoted, she said she was not the one who will draw every member of the family into the politics "as is practiced by some." "I did not join politics when Ambareesh was alive. So long as I am in this field, my son will not venture into politics," the MP said.
About the possibility of her fighting elections from Bengaluru, Sumalatha said her family had always been committed to Mandya and there were no such possibilities of moving out.
"I will quit politics rather than compromising with my self-esteem. I will prefer leaving this world, instead of Mandya," she said.
The Lok Sabha member clarified that she got into politics not for making money as is done by others but to bring a change in the district and improve lives.
However, caustic remarks passed against her and the impediments put in completing her works, made her think of seeking support, Sumalatha said.
"This move is not about Sumalatha's future but Mandya's future. I have to take a step in this direction," the MP said.
She also said the decision was necessary keeping in view the future of her supporters.
Sumalatha also told the gathering about the various works carried out by her in the last four years dismissing the allegations that she was not active and was not meeting people.
Reacting to her decision on extending full support to BJP, JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said there was no need to give prominence to Sumalatha.
"No one is surprised by this news. In my opinion we need not have to give prominence to it," he told reporters in Hassan.
Calling Sumalatha, a big person, the JD(S) leader said big people join big party. "I have not grown to that big level to comment on her. I feel it is not appropriate to react to it," he said.
Regarding the development works taken up in the district during her tenure, he said people of Mandya will decide on it.
Sumalatha, a multi-lingual film actress who was born in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh had worked in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam movies.
Her husband M H Ambareesh, who died in November 2018, was also an actor-turned-politician. After his death, she contested the Lok Sabha election from Mandya and defeated former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda's grandson and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil Kumaraswamy.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)