Bengaluru: As expected, former minister and actor-turned-politician, M.H. Ambarish on Tuesday rejected the Congress party's request to contest the May 12 Assembly polls from his pocketburrough Mandya.
The Congress had announced his name and had even sent a B form to his residence. During the last couple of days, many senior Congress leaders, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had tried to convince him to contest in vain.
Speaking to reporters soon after the party announced the candidature of P. Ravikumar Ganiga for the constituency, Mr Ambarish who is popularly known as ‘Rebel Star’ launched a veiled attack on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah repeatedly invoking his new movie title Ambi Ning Vyasaitho! (Ambarish you are old now) in the press meet.
At his sarcastic best, Mr Ambarish quipped, "About four years ago I was treated in a Singapore hospital, age is also a factor. Also, I cannot justify my performance as an elected representative." He quickly added that he realised his real worth the day he was dropped from the cabinet on the ground that he was ill and growing old. "Such being the case about two years ago, how can I now contest the elections and campaign for any candidate? Moreover, I have not suggested any names to the party so, why will I campaign for others? If I were to campaign for others, I could very well have contested myself, isn't that a logical choice," he retorted in response to a question.
Indirectly taking a swipe at CM Siddaramaiah, he said, "I too contributed in my own way to make Kanaka Dasa (Siddaramaiah) into Kanaka Raja. I don't know if he has any time for those who had helped him in his tough times. I have not met him as I did not want to disturb him. After becoming Chief Minister, he is certainly a busy man. I feel one should not disturb those who are in high places and are busy always."
Openly expressing his displeasure against KPCC working president, Dinesh Gundurao, Mr Ambarish stated that when the former had come to meet him recently Mr Rao had hinted that he might lose the election this time.
"If the KPCC working president Mr Rao, who is on the verge of becoming KPCC president, feels that I might not win, it is better to realise you are growing old and make way for new faces," he said in a huff.
Replying to another question, Mr Ambarish denied that he would quit the Congress and join some other political party. “Other parties have sent me feelers. They had approached me three months back but I declined their offers saying the Congress has given me everything."
Setback for Cong
The decision of the ‘Rebel Star’ to stay away from the contest is considered a setback for the party in the Vokkaliga dominated Old Mysuru region, in which the JD (S) is a strong force. In 2013, the party managed to win only two of these constituencies-Mandya and Malavalli. Mr Ambarish won by a record margin of 42,937 votes against the JD(S) candidate M. Srinivas. The Congress hopes to better its performance in these seven constituencies this time with former JD(S) MLAs N. Cheluvarayaswamy and Ramesh Bandisidde Gowda seeking a re-election on Congress tickets. Securing the Vokkaliga votes is crucial in these constituencies.
The Congress would be hoping for a repeat of 1999 when the party won all the seven seats under the leadership of S.M. Krishna. The Congress knows that after Mr Krishna joined the BJP, Ambarish is the only formidable Vokkaliga leader on their side besides D.K. Shivakumar which is why they want to make sure he does not damage the party prospects in the region.
Note from Kannada.Club :
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