A stalwart in Karnataka politics, the late BJP Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar never lost a single election in his time. With the minister's death, the BJP has lost an influential leader in Bengaluru, who survived six consecutive elections.
At 59, Ananth Kumar was one of the few BJP leaders who won a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections without having contested the state assembly polls.
Although he was instrumental in building up a BJP presence in his home district of Hubballi, the BJP offered him a ticket to contest from Bengaluru South constituency.
Entering the big leagues
Ananth Kumar made his mark in 1996 after defeating Varalakshmi Gundu Rao, wife of former Karnataka CM R Gundu Rao from the Bengaluru South Lok Sabha constituency. This was a big win for Ananth Kumar as he emerged as a formidable political player by defeating Varalakshmi in her home constituency.
In the 1998, Ananth Kumar defended his bastion by defeating DP Sharma of Congress. Founder of Sharma Travels, DP Sharma was an influential politician who had close ties to former Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Overwhelmed by the defeat in 1996, the Congress decided to pit DP Sharma against Ananth Kumar. However, the BJP leader emerged victorious once again by defeating Sharma with a huge margin of over 1.8 lakh votes.
In the 1999 Lok Sabha polls as well, Ananth Kumar defeated BK Hariprasad of the Congress party. With the hat-trick win, Ananth Kumar became a force to be reckoned with. During the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress decided to pull out its big guns and field Vokkaliga strongman, M Krishnappa, against Anath Kumar from Bengaluru South constituency. He become the youngest minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet where he served as a minister for civil aviation.
Though it was a fierce battle, Ananth Kumar won by a margin of 60,000 votes, further strengthening his leadership. By 2009 Ananth Kumar had become indestructible and the Congress was scrambling to find candidates to field from Bengaluru South. Ananth Kumar had also risen to the post of the BJPâ€™s national general secretary by this time.
Facing new blood
The grand old party decided on budding young leader Krishna Byre Gowda, a US-educated, eloquent policy maker. The Congress was banking on Krishna Byre Gowdaâ€™s impressive resume to gather votes. Despite Krishna Byre Gowdaâ€™s valiant effort, he was defeated with a margin of 37,000 votes.
By 2014, Bengaluru South had been established as Ananth Kumarâ€™s turf, and the Congress pitted industrialist Nandan Nilekani against him. The Congressâ€™ decision to field Nilekani was to steer away the Brahmin vote as well as those of IT professionals in the constituency.
This did not hamper Ananth Kumarâ€™s victory as he swept the elections with a margin of over 2.2 lakh votes. Ananth Kumar also rose in the BJPâ€™s ranks. He was also a trusted associate of veteran BJP leader LK Advani.