Bengaluru: He had a dream run in electoral politics that few can boast of. Since winning his first Lok Sabha election in 1996, H N Ananth Kumar went on to win the next five LS polls too from Bengaluru South, defeating the best of Congress candidates, who tried to take him on.
Hailing from Hubballi, he did his homework before choosing Bengaluru South as his constituency. He had a good knowledge of its voter configuration and began nurturing it as far back as in 1991, while he was still president of the BJP Yuva Morcha.
The constituency was at the time dominated by Brahmins and Vokkaligas followed by Jains and other working middle class people. With the Vokkaligas backing the Congress, the party had always won both Bengaluru constituencies until then. But having set his mind on winning over Bengaluru South, Ananth Kumar persuaded noted economist, Prof Venkatagiri Gowda, who was active in Vokkaliga Sangha politics, to join the BJP and the combination of Vokkaliga, Brahmin, Jains and middle class voters got the party its first victory in Bengaluru city. Prof. Gowda, who was fielded by the party, won by a comfortable majority.
But Ananth Kumar did not stop there. He also persuaded Mr H N Nanje Gowda, a prominent Vokkaliga leader and irrigation expert, to join the BJP and made sure he contested from the Basavanagudi Assembly constituency with its large number of Vokkaliga voters in the 1994 state elections. His twin strategy paid off as the two wins helped consolidate the Vokkaliga vote in favour of the BJP in Bengaluru South .
In 1996 the BJP decided to field Ananth Kumar himself from Bengaluru South and an upset Prof Gowda contested as an independent. But neither he nor Mrs Varalakshmi Gundurao, widow of the late Chief Minister, Gundu Rao, fielded by the Congress, could stop him and he won the election comfortably.
In the Lok Sabha elections that followed he defeated all the candidates fielded by the Congress , D P Sharma, B K Hariprasad, M Krishnappa, Krishna Byre Gowda and Nandan Nilkeni.
One of the secrets of his success was his ability to stay grounded even when he was in power and his willingness to help all the eight MLAs of his parliamentary constituency, irrespective of their political affiliation. He also fostered small group activities, and was easily accessible to them. His constituents too found him easy to approach.
Ananth Kumar’s social work added to his gains. The Akshaya Pathre scheme that he introduced through his Adamya Chethana Trust to feed poor children in government schools, helped him reach out to their parents in slums and the minority community. One of his greatest strengths, however, was his wife , Tejaswini who not only took care of the trust’s activities, but also spoke on his behalf to people, who came in search of him. She never interfered in politics, but ensured that the personal problems of the people of the constituency were attended to, earning him their gratitude.
Note from Kannada.Club :
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