MP who beat up K’taka doctors in hospital months ago is new MoS

Ananth Kumar Hegde’s induction has come as a surprise even to BJP leaders in Karnataka as most had expected a Lingayat face.
MP who beat up K’taka doctors in hospital months ago is new MoS
MP who beat up K’taka doctors in hospital months ago is new MoS
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With Karnataka heading into elections early next year, and the BJP trying to wrest the state from the Congress, the Union cabinet reshuffle on Saturday was expected to throw up faces from the state.

However, the choice of Minister – Uttara Kannada MP Ananth Kumar Hegde – has come as a shock to many. Ananth Kumar was among nine Ministers inducted on Sunday, becoming Minister of State for Skill Development.

With the demand growing for a separate Lingayat religion, one of the main expectations had been that a Lingayat leader from the state would join the Union cabinet. The unexpected choice has caught even BJP leaders in Karnataka off-guard.

“Everyone was expecting a Lingayat leader to make it to the cabinet. It came as a shock that Ananth Kumar Hegde was chosen. But it is also understandable as he is an RSS strongman and has been able to draw huge public support in his district, which is prone to communal conflicts. He is also a strong supporter of the Hindutva agenda and has worked towards safeguarding Hindus in the Bhatkal region,” a member of the Karnataka BJP told TNM.

Ananth Kumar’s appointment comes as a surprise because the MP had been caught on camera earlier this year assaulting doctors at the Totagarara Seva Samiti Hospital in Sirsi.

In the video, Hegde was seen abusing and manhandling the doctors, while alleging that the doctors were negligent in treating his mother. The issue was settled after the hospital management and doctors reached a compromise with Hegde. 

Hegde has also acquired the reputation of being a ‘hot-head’, and has stirred up several controversies over the years.

In 2016, Ananth Kumar had told media persons that, “as long as Islam is there in this world, there will be terrorism.”

“Until we eradicate Islam from the world we will not be able to eliminate terrorism from the world. Islam is a bomb placed to disrupt world peace. As long as there is Islam there will be no peace in the world,” he had told reporters during a news conference. A case was filed against him in Sirsi following these comments.

Congress members accuse the BJP of affirming Ananth Kumar’s polarising politics by inducting him into the cabinet. “Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada districts are communally sensitive. Ananth Kumar’s appointment is just another way of gaining sympathy votes. He gathers support by filling people’s minds with poison, and constantly reminding them about Hindus killed in the area,” a Congress member, who did not wish to be named, told TNM.  

An agriculturist by profession, Ananth Kumar is a five-time BJP Lok Sabha MP from the Uttara Kannada district.

He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996, at the age of 27 years, by defeating Congress candidate Margaret Alva. He has won consecutive elections in the constituency ever since.

Ananth Kumar has also been a member of several parliamentary standing committees including on finance, home affairs, human resource development, commerce, agriculture and external affairs. 

He began his political career with the RSS, and was also an ABVP activist in his youth. He first rose to prominence when communal clashes erupted in Uttara Kannada after the Babri Masjid demolition.

In 1993, he was charged with rioting and promoting enmity after a mob he was part of in Bhatkal resorted to communal violence.

In 1994, when communal tensions ran high in Hubballi over the Idgah maidan issue, he was in the news for flouting prohibitory orders under Section 144 and hoisting the national flag in the maidan on Independence Day. The ensuing violence and police firing claimed eight lives.

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