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Ananth Kumar, Bengaluru’s most loved MP, known for his political expertise
A staunch RSS ideologue, a hard boiled organisation man, Bengalurus most loved MP and the first person to speak in Kannada in the United Nations are some of the connotations associated with Union Minister Ananth Kumar
Bengaluru: A staunch RSS ideologue, a hard boiled organisation man, Bengaluru's "most loved" MP and the first person to speak in Kannada in the United Nations are some of the connotations associated with Union Minister Ananth Kumar.
Known for his political adroitness, Kumar, a six-time member of Parliament, gregarious with strong political instincts, had managed to be in the inner circle of the central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- be it during the heyday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, or now, Narendra Modi.
Born in a middle class Brahmin family on July 22, 1959, in Bengaluru to Narayan Shastri, a railway employee, and Girija N Shastry, his early education began under the guidance of his mother who herself was a graduate.
Graduate in Arts and Law, Kumar's journey into public life began due to his association with the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student organisation of the Sangh Pariwar, which he served in various capacities, including as state secretary and the national secretary. Kumar had even demonstrated against the then Indira Gandhi government's imposition of Emergency and was imprisoned for it for about 30 days. With his steady political growth, his association with the Sangh, where he was mentored politically, also grew stronger.
Looking for a bigger ground in politics, Kumar joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1987, where he went on to take up the responsibilities of state secretary, state president of the Yuva Morcha, general secretary and national secretary.
Along with state BJP chief Yeddyurappa, Kumar is among the few party leaders who can be credited for the growth of BJP in Karnataka, as they built the party from scratch, paving the way for installation of the first ever saffron party government in the South.
Kumar began his parliamentary career in 1996, when he got elected to the Lok Sabha from Bangalore South. The constituency remained his strong fort till his death and he won it for six consecutive times. He enjoyed the credit of being the "youngest" minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet in 1998. He served as the Civil Aviation minister, also Minister for Tourism, Sports, Youth Affairs and Culture, Urban development and poverty alleviation.
Kumar, who also held positions in various parliamentary committees, was serving as the Union Cabinet Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Chemicals and Fertilizers in the Narendra Modi led government, after winning the 15th Lok Sabha election from Bengaluru south by defeating IT Czar Nandan Nilekani.
He is widely credited for implementing Neem Coated Urea and setting up of Jan Aushadhi Kendras with focus on affordable quality health care.
While being the all important member of the BJP's parliamentary board, Kumar is often regarded as the "Delhi face" of the Karnataka BJP and also for the state government who could be counted upon for taking issues concerning Karnataka. He is known to have had a politically hostile relationship with Yeddyurappa on occasions and often faced accusations of meddling too much in Karnataka affairs, when the Lingayat strongman was at the helm as its Chief Minister.
Kumar was married to Dr Tejaswini and they have two daughters Aishwarya and Vijetha.
Kumar was the Chief Patron of Adamya Chetana, an NGO involved in social work which he ran along with his wife in the memory of his mother Girija Shastry.