Bangalore, March 17 (IANS) Is popular Kannada actor-turned politician Ambareesh planning to quit the Congress and join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?
The speculation gained ground after the actor expressed his unhappiness over the 'humiliation' meted out to him by the state leaders, and said he would not contest the poll this time.
Ambareesh told IANS that he is still in the Congress party, but would not contest the forthcoming elections. He also denied reports that he had personally sought the party ticket from the Mysore Lok Sabha constituency.
'I am terribly hurt over some developments in my party. I have been utterly humiliated by the local leadership many a time. I have remained a loyal worker for the party for many years, but see how I have been treated,' a dejected Ambareesh told IANS.
Speculation is rife about Ambareesh joining the ruling BJP in Karnataka, but sources in the Kannada film industry close to him say he is yet undecided.
The BJP is continuing with its efforts to rope in some influential Congress leaders ahead of the elections. Securing Ambareesh is high on the BJP's agenda and many local party leaders are in touch with the actor.
Ambareesh remains one of the most popular actors in the Kannada film industry. He joined the political bandwagon after a lot of dilly-dallying and has seen many twists and turns in his decade long political career.
He is perhaps one of the few politicians who have contested and won four parliamentary elections by a huge margin of over 200,000 votes despite having contested on different party tickets. He has won the Mandya seat three times on the Congress ticket and once on the Janata Dal ticket.
The Congress has selected him for the Mandya seat again, but the actor is unwilling to contest.
Ambareesh has made his displeasure public on many occasions. He has also said that many workers of the Congress played a crucial role in his defeat in the Srirangapattana assembly seat some months ago. He maintains that though the fact is known in the party, nothing concrete has been done to discipline the anti-party activists.
Meanwhile, the Congress party leaders, apart from a few statements requesting Ambareesh to stay on, have not done much to assuage his feelings.
On Monday, Tejaswini Ramesh, a party MP, met Ambareesh at his residence to plead with the actor not to leave the party.
D.K. Shivakumar, the working president of the state unit, said that Ambareesh has been allotted the Mandya seat and it is up to the actor to accept or reject the offer.