Bengaluru: If former CM Dharam Singh was the ‘Ajatashatru’ of Karnataka politics, another politician who equally deserved this title was Ananth Kumar, who had friends cutting across party lines.
The late BJP leader who originally hailed from Hubballi, first made his electoral mark in 1996 when he defeated Varalakshmi Gundurao, wife of former CM R. Gundurao in the Bengaluru South Lok Sabha constituency. This was a big win for Kumar as he emerged a formidable political player and has not looked back then making Bengaluru South his permanent constituency.
What made him stand out from many others in the saffron party was his ability to strike a very good rapport with rival leaders like former ministers, R. Ramalinga Reddy and M. Krishnappa of Congress and V. Somanna when he was earlier in the Congress.
Since the days of the Emergency (1977 on- wards), Bengaluru South constituency has been an anti-Congress bastion except when late CM Gundurao represented the constituency for a brief period between 1989-91. He later lost the elections to the mercurial BJP leader K. Venkatgiri Gowda in the 1991 general election.
A section of Congress leaders told this newspaper that the primary reason for Kumar’s continuous victories was his steady rise within the party at the state and national level and the clout he enjoyed. “He became one of the most formidable Karnataka leaders in Delhi, whoever went to Delhi seeking his help irrespective of party or caste affiliations, he bailed them out. He would do whatever was possible in his capacity to help them, considering them fellow citizens from his home state and not as people on the other side of the caste or political divide This was the reason why some Congress leaders at the grassroots had a soft corner for him and used to remain neutral or help him indirectly during the polls,” the source explained.
It is therefore not surprising that the Congress party has not been able to find a suitable candidate since 1977 for Bengaluru South except late Gundurao and it was only several decades later that current minister, Krishna Byre Gowda gave him a tough fight.
Former minister, Ramalinga Reddy aptly summed up his equation with Kumar on Monday, after paying his respects remarking, “Other than at the time of the elections, he never brought up the question of party affiliation.”...