Hubballi: Although Ananth Kumar represented Bengaluru South in the Lok Sabha since 1996, it was the commercial town of Hubballi which laid the foundation for his political career.
Having done his schooling at the Lamington School and PUC at the PC Jabin College, besides LLB for two years at the JSS Law College there from 1975 to 80, it was while he was studying at the Shri Kadasiddheshwar Arts College that he became a full-time member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS.
He went on to lead several agitations against capitation fee and the donation menace in the eighties and chalked out various protest strategies against the state government’s education policies, including publishing “ black papers” against them. He focused on Bengaluru after he became state ABVP secretary, grooming several politicians in the region to take on issues like the Idgah Maidan row.
His close associates believe he inherited his talent for eloquent speeches and his love for social work from his mother, Girija Sastry who was a social worker, an active member of the Jan Sangh and deputy mayor of Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation in 1985-86.
His father, Narayan Sastry, was a railway employee and the family lived in a small tiled roof house in the MTS Railway quarters. Preasnet Dharwad MP of the BJP, Pralhad Joshi, was his neighbour as his father too was a railway employee.
“He built the ABVP by sleeping at bus stands. I learnt a lot from him. He was instrumental in the construction of the Cancer Institute at KIMS Hospital for the poor of the region. But he himself succumbed to the disease,” lamented Mr Joshi.
Many of his friends in Hubballi recall that Ananth Kumar ate sambar and rice on the streets of Bengaluru for Rs 5 when he had little money and lodged at the home of former Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, S Mallikarjunaiah, who was then state BJP vice-president, as he had nowhere else to go.