The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday decided to support multi-lingual actress Sumalatha Ambareesh, who is contesting the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency in south Karnataka as an Independent candidate, instead of fielding its own nominee.

“Of the 48 names cleared for contesting in the upcoming general elections, the party’s Central Election Committee has decided to support Sumalatha in Mandya and field S. Muniswamy from the Kolar (SC) constituency in the southern state,” an official of the party’s state unit told IANS.

This means the BJP would contest 27 of the 28 parliamentary seats in the state, including the five reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and two for Scheduled Tribe (ST).

Mandya will vote on April 18 along with 13 other seats in the state’s central and southern regions in the first phase, while polling in the remaining 14 seats in the state’s coastal and northern regions will be on April 23.

Vote count for all the 28 seats is on May 23.

Sumalatha, 55, filed her nomination from Mandya on March 20 as an Independent after the Congress conceded the seat to its ruling ally Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), which is fielding Nikhil Gowda, the only son of state Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy, and grandson of JD-S supremo and former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda.

Sumalatha is the widow of Kannada rebel star and former Congress leader, lawmaker and Minister, M. H. Ambareesh, who was a three-time Lok Sabha MP from Mandya before becoming a legislator from the Srirangapatna assembly segment near Mysuru.

Ambareesh passed away in Bengaluru on November 24, 2018 at the age of 66.

“Sumalatha recently met our senior leader and former External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna and sought our party’s support after the Congress declined to nominate her from Mandya.

“The constituency was represented by JD-S minister C. Puttaraju, whose resignation in May 2018 necessitated the November 6 bye-election, in which JD-S candidate L. Shivaramae Gowda won against the BJP’s Siddaramaiah,” said the official quoted above.