Popular Kannada film actor Ambareesh has won over many fans over the years with his performances on the silver screen. But it seems unlikely that he will be able to convert his considerable filmy fortune to an electoral victory in the Mandya city constituency in the Karnataka assembly polls on May 5.
Ambareesh, a Congress candidate who is popularly known as Mandyada Gandu (the man of Mandya), is pitted against M Srinivas of the Janata Dal - Secular.
Locals of Mandya are deeply concerned about the sharing of water from the Cauvery River. The JD-U has played up the emotive issue to a crescendo and the strategy will definitely work in Srinivas’s favour.
Ambareesh has also had to face considerable opposition from his party. Senior Congress leader S M Krishna has already opposed his candidature. Krishna hails from neighbouring Maddur constituency and enjoys immense clout in this region.
Congress candidate Atmananda, who has traditionally contested from Mandya, was denied a ticket this year. His followers have now teamed up with those of Krishna to defeat their own party candidate.
Congress leaders had found a cause to celebrate when rebellion shook up the ranks of the JD-S over the candidature of Srinivas. But the party has managed to quell the murmurs of dissent and put its house in order.
Ambareesh has also been accused of not spending enough time in his constituency. People of Mandya felt his absence when the Cauvery issue was at its peak.
Now, Ambareesh is trying hard to make amends and woo the locals. He has left his residence in Bangalore for the time being to set up camp in Mandya. The actor has also roped in his wife Sumalatha to campaign for him.
The Congress, which has rubbed Krishna and several other state leaders the wrong way by choosing Ambareesh for this constituency, wants to win it desperately
The party is hopeful that its trump card -- Vice President Rahul Gandhi -- will work wonders when he addresses a political rally here.
An unfazed JD-S is telling the people of Mandya that the Congress has not put enough emphasis on the Cauvery issue. The party is banking on the votes of the Vokkaliga and minority communities to carry it through on election day.
The Congress, meanwhile, is hopeful that the majority Kuruba community in the area will vote for the party as its senior leader and chief ministerial hopeful Siddaramaiah belongs to the same community.