South Indian actress Sumalatha Ambareesh on Sunday thanked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for supporting her in winning the high-profile Mandya Lok Sabha constituency in Karnataka.
"Sumalatha met our state President B.S Yeddyurappa and senior leader S.M. Krishna to personally thank them, other party leaders and cadres for their support," a BJP official told IANS.
Sumalatha, 55, widow of Kannada film star and former Congress leader M.H. Ambareesh, won the seat - considered a JD-S bastion - by a margin of 1,25,876 votes, defeating the ruling Janata Dal-Secular candidate Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the son of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and grandson of party supremo and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda.
Mandya also recorded the highest voter turnout in the southern state with 80.24 per cent of the 13,72,308 votes polled. Sumalatha secured 7,03,660 and Nikhil 5,77,784.
Asked if she would join the BJP, which won 25 of the state's 28 Lok Sabha seats, Sumalatha said she would decide on May 29 after consulting the people of Mandya who overwhelmingly voted for her as the daughter-in-law of the district.
"As May 29th is also the birthday of my husband (Ambareesh), I will go by the opinion of my people on whose demand I contested and won with their support. I will abide by their decision as to the development of the district and their welfare are my utmost concern as they were of Ambareesh," she told reporters.
Sumalatha, however, said there was no provision for an Independent to join a party but she can extend issue-based support to the BJP.
Ambareesh also represented Mandya thrice, twice as JD-S member (1996-99, 1999-2004) and then as Congress member (2004-2009). He was also a Minister in the UPA-1 government from October 2006 to February 2007.