Sumalatha Ambareesh filed her nomination papers for the Lok Sabha seat of Mandya in Karnataka on Wednesday. Sumalatha, the wife of late superstar Ambareesh is contesting as an Independent, even though her husband was a Congressman. The Congress has given the ticket for Mandya to its coalition partner, the Janata Dal (Secular), which is fielding Nikhil Gowda, the actor son of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. And Sumalatha, despite meeting BJP leader SM Krishna, decided to go it alone.
Not exactly alone, though. During her nomination filing, hundreds of film fans were present at the District Collectorate's office in Mandya. These were fans of Ambareesh - but also of the current megastars of the Kannada film industry who have expressed their backing of Sumalatha.
Actor Sudeep has tweeted his support for 'Sumalatha akka' or big sister.
'Rocking Star' Yash, fresh from the mega hit film, KGF, said, "Ambareesh has done so much for the people. His love is always with us. He has done so much for the people of Karnataka. Mandya is Ambareesh...To stand as an MP need quality and intelligence. Sumalatha has that. I will be with her 100 per cent. My mother has taken a decision. Will stand with her like a son."
'Challenging Star' Darshan said, "We have not come here as stars. We are here as sons of the family."
The candidate appreciates their support. Sumalatha told NDTV, "I think it makes a huge impact because, Darshan or Yash have a huge fan following. They have basically all been identified as Ambareesh's sons. That is how people of Karnataka see them. Part of our family. So it is a big boost for me. The support of the Kannada film industry really has given me a lot of courage."
Sumalatha will pose a challenge to Nikhil. But his father is certain of his son's victory. HD Kumaraswamy told NDTV, "I am not worried about whoever contests against our party in Mandya. Mandya we know. We had 30-40 years personal relationship. I know how to handle Mandya situation."
Sumalatha says she will not focus on what the JDS is doing to defeat her. She told NDTV, "I am sure they will (pull out all the stops) and why not? It is an election it is free for all. But I would like to do it in my own way with as much decency and dignity as I can. I don't want to stoop to any mud-slinging or personal attack. I have a goal. I am looking at only that. It will add to my pressure if I think of what they can do. I am doing this for the people of Mandya who gave so much love to the people of Ambareesh while he was alive and after he went also."
But there has been resistance to the idea of Nikhil getting the Mandya ticket. The Congress and JDS workers are traditional rivals in a Vokkaliga-dominated region where the BJP has not been able to make major inroads. Some Congress workers are openly supporting Sumalatha. And the Congress knows it is a tricky situation.
State Congress Chief, Dinesh Gundu Rao, told NDTV, "Mandya is a very special case, let me be frank, in the entire 28 Lok Sabha seats. Mandya has a special situation there that needs to be addressed by both the parties. There is a history of rivalry between Congress and JDS. We need to sit and talk to our leaders and sort of iron it out. JDS people have to cooperate in that."
Mandya votes on April 18th - and will be closely watched.