In veteran Telugu actor Mohan Babu’s book, Chandrababu Naidu is no longer the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.
“Chandrababu Naidu was once the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, not now and never will be,” Mohan Babu wrote on 17 April, a day before the southern part of Karnataka went to polls. He was taking on Naidu for having opposed Sumalatha in the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency and instead campaigned for Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the son of HD Kumaraswamy who was the joint JD(S)-Congress candidate.
Mohan Babu who joined the YSR Congress a few days before the elections in Andhra, still seems to be in campaign mode. He accused Naidu of being ungrateful, pointing out that Ambareesh had attended several of the TDP chief’s functions at his “recommendation”.
“Now with no gratitude, he is doing whatever he can to defeat his wife in the elections. It is very ridiculous and surprising to see Chandrababu go against Sumalatha,” wrote Mohan Babu.
In his statement, Mohan Babu asked the people of Mandya to support Sumalatha, the widow of the late Ambareesh who had represented the constituency in the past. In fact, Ambareesh, a popular actor in Kannada films, was referred to as the Mandyada Gandu (Mandya’s man). Ambareesh, who also served as Karnataka Housing minister in the Siddaramaiah government, had starred in Kannada film `Mandyada Gandu’ in 1994 and the popular title song is a number still hummed by every Mandya resident.
Naidu had political reasons to bat for Kumaraswamy and not Sumalatha. The contest in Mandya was very keenly fought with the BJP backing Sumalatha, contesting as an Independent. Moreover, Nikhil’s grandfather HD Deve Gowda and Naidu go back to 1996 when the latter as United Front convenor had played a part in the Karnataka leader becoming Prime minister. Of late, Gowda has been pushing Naidu’s name for the top job.
Mandya on Thursday was in the news for all the right reasons. It registered the highest voter turnout in Karnataka, jumping from 71.4 per cent in the 2014 elections to 80.23 on Thursday.
A factor contributing to this could be the fact that on the ground a large number of Congress cadre too worked silently for Sumalatha as a tribute to Ambareesh who was a Congressman. If Nikhil loses in Mandya, it may well spell trouble for the coalition government in Karnataka.