(A BJP functionary, M.H. Shreedhar, who was one of Ananth Kumar’s close associates, and who was with him in the hospital till the end, recalls his life’s work)
“After being initiated in the RSS, he honed his leadership qualities during the JP movement and like many other leaders, was jailed during the Emergency. Later, he joined the ABVP and it was here that he learnt the ropes of agitational politics. He was not a loner and liked having people around.
What I saw then was that while B.S. Yeddyurappa (present state BJP chief) got the ideas, he wasn’t good at executing them. It was Ananth Kumar, using his ABVP channels and the experience he gained there, who did the executing, holding agitations.
It was during this period that he went around the state and identified many leaders like Jagadish Shettar and Pralhad Joshi. Since his ABVP days he always had a personal bonding with most leaders and this endeared him to many.
In 2004 , when (late Chief Minister) Ramakrishna Hegde died, leaving a huge void in state politics, he got the opportunity and brought a large number of Lingayat and Dalit leaders into the party. And as a result the BJP got 79 seats in the state assembly. There were some similarities between the late Hegde and Ananth Kumar. Both had the ability to pick and mentor next generation leaders.
On going to Delhi in the mid- nineties, his boldness and assertiveness got noticed and helped him succeed. With his broken Hindi, which he learnt in the RSS, he quickly climbed the ladder.
His dream was to build a big cancer institute and he did on land donated by the Shankara Math. One of the trustees of the hospital is his wife, Tejaswini. Ironically, he breathed his last in the same hospital, although till 1 am Monday morning his vital parameters had seemed alright.”
(As told to Bhaskar Hegde)
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