In a battle of debutants, actor-turned-politician and independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh trounced Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, by nearly one lakh votes in Mandya constituency of Karnataka.
Sumalatha, widow of three-time Congress MP and late Kannada superstar M.H. Ambareesh, bagged 6,31,162 votes while Nikhil secured 5,26,952 votes. The 55-year-old actor got the tacit support from the Bharatiya Janata Party which refrained from fielding a candidate in the constituency.
Mandya, a Vokkaliga bastion, rose to limelight after Sumalatha, after being rejected a ticket by the Congress party which is in alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular), announced her decision to contest as an independent.
In 2014 general elections, Mandya was won by JD(S)'s C.S. Puttaraju who beat Congress's social media head Divya Spandana. In 2018 state elections, the JD(S) had won all the eight assembly segments in the constituency.
There were 22 candidates in the fray in Mandya, the hotbed of Cauvery politics. There was a clear split among voters with both Sumalatha and Nikhil banking on their family's political legacy. The Gowda family hails from the neighbouring Hassan district, and many in Mandya see Nikhil's candidature as imposition of dynasty politics.
Many Congress workers, too, had extended support to Sumalatha.
The Congress and the JD(S), arch-rivals in the old Mysuru region which includes Mandya, joined hands to form a government in the state after the May 2018 assembly polls threw up a hung verdict.
The Congress is contesting 21 seats and the JD(S) seven seats as part of the alliance.