Though Mandya Assembly constituency falls in the heartland of the Old Mysore region — traditionally a stronghold of the Janata Dal (Secular) — the party is unlikely to have an easy run here this time. However, this does not mean the Congress will by default sail through.
The battle lines are drawn between actor-turned-politician M.H. Ambareesh, who is also the vice-president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, and two-time MLA M. Srinivas of JD(S). Both candidates have some serious dissident activities to contend with.
The entire Mandya District Congress Committee (MDCC), according to its spokesperson T.S. Sathyananda, is against Mr. Ambareesh and have decided not to campaign for him. M.S. Atmananda, who recently resigned from the post of MDCC president, is also not joining the campaign.
“The MDCC is against Mr. Ambareesh as he is indulging in poll politics without party activists. The party members at grassroots-level are also against the actor,” Mr. Sathyananda told The Hindu. The only silver lining for Mr. Amabareesh is that Ravindra Srikantaiah, who had filed nomination as a rebel candidate, finally withdrew his nomination.
On the other hand, Mr. Srinivas will face stiff competition from Ashok S.D. Jayaram, a rebel candidate, who has his pockets of loyalty. Although 19 are in the fray in the constituency, these three are the candidates to watch out for. Supporters of JD(S) leader Chandagalu Shivanna, who was also denied JD(S) ticket, may work against Mr. Srinivas.
The Mandya Assembly segment comprises three hoblis: Mandya, Basaralu and Keregodu. Vokkaligas are the most powerful community here, and not surprisingly, Mr. Ambareesh, Mr. Srinivas and Mr. Ashok Jayaram are all Vokkaligas. Kurubas, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are also in a fairly large number.
The Congress is confident of winning the elections by projecting the Union government’s developmental projects implemented in Mandya. Also, Mr. Ambareesh hopes that the voters will elect him as he has implemented several programmes under the MP fund during his tenure.
Mr. Srinivas is seeking a mandate based on the achievements of the former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s government.
All-India Congress Committee vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Mr. Kumaraswamy are expected to campaign for their respective party candidates in the last week of April.