Lok Sabha Election

Sumalatha: On her own starlight

Sumalatha, actor and wife of late Kannada actor and former Union Minister M.H. Ambareesh, formally announced her decision to contest from Mandya constitency as an independent candidate at a Media Conference on March 18, 2019.   | Photo Credit: V Sreenivasa Murthy

All through her actor-husband Ambareesh’s political career, Sumalatha, a star in her own right, kept a low profile politically. But now, after his death, she has boldly entered the electoral battle. As the Congress could not give her ticket to contest in Mandya, her husband’s constituency, she decided to fight as an Independent candidate.

Now, all eyes are on Mandya, where the multilingual star is facing off with Nikhil, son of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Her surprise entry has upset the equations in this heartland of Vokkaligas, a dominant caste in southern Karnataka. When L.R. Shivarame Gowda of the Janata Dal(S)-Congress combine won the byelection here last November, the coalition partners had not foreseen any challenge within a few months.

During the seat-sharing talks between the two parties, the Mandya seat went to the Janata Dal(S). After deciding to contest, Ms. Sumalatha has been touring Mandya, meeting residents and local leaders. She filed her nomination on Wednesday, with an impressive number of supporters in attendance.

Though JD(S) has a formidable presence here, with eight MLAs and two Ministers from Mandya, Ms. Sumalatha is expected to put up a tough fight. Her candidature will, perhaps, confine the Chief Minister to the constituency to campaign for his son for longer than expected. With the BJP expected to cash in on this opportunity by not fielding a candidate and many disgruntled Congress workers on her side, Mr. Nikhil’s electoral debut no longer looks like the cakewalk it was presumed to be.

Ms. Sumalatha’s meeting with senior BJP leader and former Union Minister S.M. Krishna reveals that she is not leaving any stone unturned. At least two big stars of the Kannada film industry (Yash and Darshan) have backed her.

No slanging match

Snide, uncharitable remarks made by some JD(S) leaders may win more sympathy votes for the actor, who lost her husband four months ago. Her refusal to get into a slanging match with her detractors has earned her the sobriquet of the “dignified daughter-in-law of Mandya”. She has been saying that she is carrying forward the legacy of her husband, who was known as Mandyada gandu (man of Mandya), and is entering politics at the behest of the people of Mandya.

Ms. Sumalatha, born into a Telugu-speaking family in Chennai, has acted in over 220 films in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi over four decades. She began her acting career at the age of 15, after winning a beauty contest in Andhra Pradesh in 1979. She made her debut in Tamil with Thisai Maariya Parvaigal the same year. Her Malayalam film Thoovanathumbikal, released in 1987, catapulted her to stardom. She married Ambareesh in 1991.

Acting after a hiatus, her November 2018 Kannada release Thayige Takka Maga (‘A mother’s worthy son’) was a hit. Her son Abhishek, whose Kannada film Amar (‘Immortal’) is set for release, has said that he has no plans for a political career as of now.


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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 3:21:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/sumalatha-on-her-own-starlight/article26592997.ece

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