In Karnataka Politics, It is Star ‘Caste’ That Counts, Not Stardom

On Monday, famous Kannada film star Sudeep met JDS state chief HD Kumaraswamy triggering speculations that “Kichcha” will join Gowdas’ party in this election.

Bengaluru: On Monday, famous Kannada film star Sudeep met JDS state chief HD Kumaraswamy triggering speculations that “Kichcha” will join Gowdas’ party in this election.

Sudeep popularly known as “Kichcha” Sudeep is one of the top actors in Kannada entertainment world. He has also acted in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu movies. Emerging out of the two-hour long meeting Sudeep said that it was just a courtesy call. Kumaraswamy was also evasive in his reply.

The Kannada “BiggBoss” anchor’s visit to Gowda son’s house led to fevered speculations in both political and film circles. According to insiders, Kumaraswamy has offered him JDS ticket from one of the constituencies in Chitradurga or Bellary. But Sudeep politely declined the offer saying that he will think about it.

A month before that ruling Congress was eyeing Sudeep. The Congress party sources claim that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah wants to field Sudeep in this election. His caste is more appealing to political parties than his star appeal. Sudeep belongs to Nayaka caste who are Scheduled Tribes in Karnataka.

The Nayakas are concentrated in Chitradurga, Bellary and Raichur districts and both Congress and JDS think that he can be of some use in these areas.

Political parties are still chasing him and Sudeep has to make up his mind. It is not just Sudeep, there are over a dozen Kannada cinema stars who are either being chased by political parties or they themselves are chasing the Netas for Assembly tickets.

Another Kannada superstar of yesteryears and former minister Ambareesh is reportedly upset with Siddaramaiah and yet to decide on whether to seek a re-election from Mandya. The “rebel” star is popular across south Karnataka because of his Vokkaliga caste. The Congress is trying to pacify him keeping Vokkaliga votes in mind.

Speaking to News18, Ambareesh said that he would take a call soon and may contest if the party offers him a ticket.

The AICC social media cell head Ramya is also a Vokkaliga from Mandya and was a famous heroine before she quit acting in 2013.

Ramya has told News18 that she was not contesting in this election. However, her mother Ranjitha has threatened to contest as an independent candidate if Congress denies her party ticket.

Not everyone is lucky like Sudeep, Ambareesh and Ramya are also in demand. There are over half a dozen stars chasing the political leaders for Assembly tickets.

Popular heroine Bhavana who is known for her middle of the road movies is lobbying for Congress ticket from Chitradurga in central Karnataka. Bhavana has been with Congress for over six years and was its star campaigner during 2013 Assembly polls. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi has recently appointed her as national general secretary of All India Fishermen Congress. Bhavana a “Mogaveera” by caste claims that she should be given the ticket because her community has a substantial population across the state.

Jayamala, the current MLC and a heartthrob of millions in the 1970s and 80s is also reportedly trying for an Assembly ticket. Speaking to News18, she said “I am from a backward class background. I am also from fishermen caste. But I am not an aspirant for a ticket this time.”

Another former hero in Kannada cinema Shashikumar is also lobbying for Congress ticket in the elections. In 1999, he had won from Chitradurga Lok Sabha seat on a Janata Pariwar ticket. Like Sudeep, he is also a Nayaka by caste and hopes that his ST background will get him the ticket this time.

Jaggesh known for his comedy movies is eyeing BJP ticket from one of the seats in Bengaluru. He is confident of securing the nomination using the Vokkaliga caste card. Well known filmmaker Rockline Venkatesh is likely to contest on Congress ticket from Malleshwaram or Dasarahalli in Bengaluru and his relative and filmmaker Muniratna is already a Congress MLA from RR Nagara in the state capital. Both are from Kamma caste.

Well known actor Malavika Avinash and Shilpa Ganesh wife of Kannada hero Ganesh are also keen on contesting in this election. Not having a powerful caste backing may go against them say BJP leaders.

Another film actor and former minister Kumar Bangarappa is likely to contest on BJP ticket against his younger brother and sitting JDS MLA Madhu Bangarappa from Soraba in Shimoga district. He is from a backward class Idiga caste, which is a dominant caste in the Malnad region.

Former MLA BC Patil, who has acted in a few movies, is once again contesting on the Congress ticket from Hirekerur in Haveri district. He is a Lingayat and the party is planning to use him to counter BJP’s Lingayat card.

Versatile actor Umashree, who has won the national award for character roles, is already a Cabinet minister in the Siddaramaiah government and contesting once again from Teradal in Bijapura district. Umashree is from a weavers community and has been deftly playing the backward class card in the election.