In an indication that actor-turned-politician and Mandya Lok Sabha MP Sumalatha Ambareesh may enter Karnataka politics, her supporters met in Mandya on Tuesday, and adopted a resolution urging her to contest the upcoming assembly polls from a seat in the district.
They have even resolved to stand by her in her decision on joining either the ruling BJP or opposition Congress.
The 59-year-old yesteryear multilingual actress is the widow of popular actor-turned politician M H Ambareesh.
A group of "like-minded" people, who are said to be Sumalatha and Ambareesh's fans, met here on Tuesday and adopted resolutions urging her to enter state politics. She was not present in the meeting.
This comes amid speculation that Sumalatha may contest the assembly polls and that she could join BJP soon.
Stating that she is under intense pressure to contest Karnataka polls due by May, the MP herself had recently maintained that she is yet to take a call on standing in the election and regarding the party she may join.
"Everyone has desired that our MP should enter state politics during the upcoming assembly polls. After gathering opinion from all concerned, in the interest of the district she should not only become a legislator, but also a minister. So, it was decided at the meeting that she has to contest polls from the district. We have adopted a resolution in this regard," Shashi Hanakere, a Sumalatha loyalist said, after the meeting.
Stating that there was confusion in certain quarters on whether she should be contesting from BJP or Congress with each one sharing their preference, he said, "It was ultimately decided that we all stand by her in whatever political decision she takes in this regard."
Sumalatha had won in 2019 by 1,25,876 votes in Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, that saw a bitterly contested campaign. She defeated the then chief minister H D Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil Kumaraswamy of the JD(S).
The fight for the Mandya Lok Sabha seat had catapulted to national limelight, with the contest projected as a cliffhanger between former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda's grandson Nikhil, an actor and the candidate of Congress-JD(S) combine, and Sumalatha Ambareesh, who stood as an Independent candidate backed by the BJP.
Sumalatha had initially sought a ticket from Congress, the party from which her late husband had represented Mandya in the past, but it was denied citing coalition compulsions as it had to cede the constituency to JD(S), as per the seat-sharing arrangement. Congress and JD(S) were in alliance then and there was a coalition government in Karnataka.
She later declared her candidature as an Independent, but the move irked Kumaraswamy and the JD(S) leadership, who were once close to Ambareesh, as they gauged that she might be a threat for them in their own backyard.
All was not well between the alliance partners, as several Congress leaders and workers, miffed over their party's decision to cede the seat to JD(S), did not campaign for Nikhil, upset over certain comments by Kumaraswamy allegedly against them.
Many party leaders and workers had extended support to Sumalatha and had campaigned for her openly with the Congress flag.
Mandya district is a JD(S) bastion and the party won all the seven assembly seats in 2018 polls. Congress, its arch-rival, is considerably strong here, while the BJP is weak.
BJP, which is trying to make inroads into the district, had managed to win K R Pet assembly seat in the 2019 bypolls, as MLA Narayana Gowda defected from JD(S) and joined the saffron party. He is now a minister in the Basavaraj Bommai government.
Aiming to win maximum number of seats in Old Mysuru region that includes Mandya to gain absolute majority in the assembly, the BJP has been making efforts to woo Sumalatha into the party. Some of its leaders and ministers have openly invited her to the party and have indicated that talks are going on with her.
Recently, some of her supporters had joined the BJP.