Living in Bengaluru? Here are some major political figures you should know

From Siddaramiah to Dinesh Gundu Rao, the list of some prominent names and histories you should know.
Living in Bengaluru? Here are some major political figures you should know
Living in Bengaluru? Here are some major political figures you should know
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If you’re new to Bengaluru and find yourself struggling to get a grasp of the politics in Karnataka, here is a list of some prominent names and histories you should know.  


Born in the village of Siddaramanahundi, Siddaramaiah is one of the most successful political leaders to emerge from the Mysore region in recent years. Trained as a lawyer, Siddaramaiah first got elected to the Karnataka Assembly in 1983. Till 2005, he remained a prominent member of the Janata Party and its subsequent avatars, and was Deputy Chief Minister twice.

Siddaramaiah joined the Congress in 2006 after splitting from Deve Gowda the previous year. In 2013, he became the Chief Minister, capitalising on his position as a strong supporter of AHINDA (coalition of minorities, backward classes and Dalits) interests. Despite a series of controversies that have marked his tenure, Siddaramaiah has managed to retain his position as the CM candidate for the 2018 polls. Siddaramaiah is positioning himself as a champion of a Kannada identity facing a threat from Hindi imposition.


Born to a Shaivite Lingayat family in Mandya, Yeddyurappa began his political career in the RSS, rising through the ranks of the Jana Sangh and facing imprisonment in the Emergency. His first shot at the CM’s post came in 2006, in coalition with the JD (S). However, the JD (S) reneged on the deal, after Yeddyurappa ascended to the post for just seven days.

He became CM of the BJP government following the 2008 elections. But following a massive outcry over corruption allegations against him, Yeddyurappa was forced to resign in 2011. Miffed at being unceremoniously ousted, he split from the BJP to form the Karnataka Janata Paksha, which was partly responsible for the BJP’s defeat in the 2013 elections. Brought back into the party by PM Narendra Modi, Yeddyurappa now stands as the party’s CM candidate for 2018.

HD Deve Gowda and HD Kumaraswamy

Born to a farmer couple from Hassan district, Deve Gowda began his political career with the Congress in 1953, then joined the Congress (O) before settling into the Janata Party. Together with Ramakrishna Hegde, he emerged as one of the tallest leaders of the Janata formation, though their mutual friction repeatedly proved a setback to Deve Gowda’s political ambitions.

In 1994, Deve Gowda became Chief Minister, and just two years later he arrived onto the national arena as the Prime Minister of the United Front government. However, he remained in the post for less than a year, after the Congress withdrew its support to his government.

As a regional party with primary backing from the Vokkaliga community, the JD (S) aligned with the Congress to form the government in 2004. However, two years later, against Deve Gowda’s wishes, his son HD Kumaraswamy split away to form a government with the BJP.

Badly beaten in subsequent elections, Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy have struggled to maintain the JD (S)’s relevance as a viable third force speaking for farmers’ interests since.

Mallikarjun Kharge

The strongest Dalit voice in the Karnataka unit of the Congress, Mallikarjun Kharge has had nearly 45 years of experience in state and national politics. Hailing from Gulbarga in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, Kharge was a nine-time MLA from the Gurmitka constituency, before getting elected twice to the Lok Sabha. Kharge has held multiple ministerial portfolios in Karnataka, served as Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and is the leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha.  

Ananth Kumar

The BJP’s MP from Bengaluru South for six consecutive terms, Ananth Kumar has maintained a relatively low profile as the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and for Chemicals and Fertilisers. As the Civil Aviation Minister in the AB Vajpayee government, Ananth Kumar was the key figure behind the public-private partnership for the Bengaluru International Airport.

Following this, he took charge of the Karnataka BJP unit in 2003, and led the party to become the single largest party in 2004, and also to the highest number of Lok Sabha seats that year. Since 2004, he has remained BJP National General Secretary.

DV Sadanand Gowda

Born in 1953, Sadanand Gowda is a lawyer-turned-politician who has been a two-time MLA and a three-time MP for the BJP. One of the most powerful Vokkaliga voices in the BJP, he was the leader the party relied on to take over power when former CM Yeddyurappa was forced to resign following corruption allegations. In 2014, he was inducted into the Narendra Modi government at the Centre as the Minister for Railways, though he was soon moved to the Law Ministry and then the Ministry for Statistics and Programme Implementation.

KJ George

Hailing from Kerala and having started off his political career with the Youth Congress, KJ George has been long known as a Bengaluru politician. While he held tenure as Urban Development Minister under S Bangarappa, George arrived as a major leader only in 2013, when CM Siddaramaiah appointed him as the state Home Minister. However, George was forced to quit the position, following allegations raised against him in relation to the death of IAS officer DK Ravi.

Once he received a clean chit in the case, George returned as the Bengaluru Development Minister. However, he was again plunged into controversy as widespread opposition built up against the controversial steel flyover project mooted by the government.  

R Ashok

A kabaddi champion in college, R Ashok first entered the Karnataka Assembly from the Uttarahalli constituency in 1997. He has since become a powerful voice from Bengaluru south for the BJP. One of the party’s prominent Vokkaliga leaders, he is seen as an important link to the community that is generally seen as inimical to the BJP. He has served as Home and Transport minister and as Deputy Chief Minister.

He is also credited with building an impressive strength for the party in Bengaluru, with his credit rising following the 2015 victory in the Bengaluru civic body polls.

Shobha Karandlaje

A long-time RSS loyalist, Shobha Karandlaje is an emerging leader of the Karnataka BJP. She became an MLC in 2004, and an MLA in 2008 and bagged a ministerial berth in the Yeddyurappa government, with the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj portfolio. She also held ministerial portfolios in the Sadanand Gowda and Jagdish Shettar governments, and is currently the BJP MP for Udupi Chikmagalur. 

Vatal Nagaraj

When it comes to the question of identity politics in Karnataka, one name almost immediately rises to the top. Vatal Nagaraj, hailing from the village Vatalu near Mysore, has been representing a pro-Kannadiga voice, ever since the 1960s. From the Cauvery river issue to public signage in other languages to the importance given to non-Kannada films in Bengaluru theatres, Vatal has been involved in a wide variety of protests, often violent ones.

While his attention-grabbing protests have had a mixed effect on governments of the day at best, his tendency to call for bandhs with astonishing regularity has been very controversial. Many have also accused him of concentrating on frivolous issues and not dealing with real problems of Kannadigas, and making easy bogeymen out of people coming to Karnataka from other states.

Narayana Gowda

Once a garment worker, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike chief TA Narayana Gowda began his pro-Kannada activism as a member of the Dr Rajkumar fans' association. According to reports, Narayana began the KRV after he was removed from the fans' association for allegedly assaulting some businessmen from North India. His outfit gained fame for such activities protesting against the appointment of non-Kannadiga candidates to government jobs, and for blackening the face of Belagavi Mayor Vijay More in 2005, because of the Mayor's pro-Maharashtra position.

The next generation

There are more than a few rising names among the younger generation of politicians that you should watch out for. In the present government, IT/BT and Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge is one of the emerging stars. Savvy and tech-smart, Priyank is a key figure in the development of Bengaluru’s start-up ecosystem. Former Food and Civil Supplies Minister and current KPCC Working President Dinesh Gundu Rao is another visible voice of the party. For the BJP, journalist-turned-MP Pratap Simha is one of the most vocal and controversial voices, offering up strong Hindutva views on a variety of current issues. Another key party man, a major voice from the BJP stronghold of Chikmagalur is MLA CT Ravi, a strong RSS loyalist. 

Main image of Vidhana Soudha is from Wikipedia. Own work by Bikashrd.

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