Union Chemicals & Fertilisers and Parliamentary Affairs Minister HN Ananth Kumar, who demised away on Monday, was a product of the Emergency era.
Incarcerated for around 30 days in the Central Jail in Bengaluru, he came in contact with BJP leaders Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani, who were also lodged there.
His association with the two leaders fast-tracked his life. He was chosen the BJP’s candidate for the 1996 Lok Sabha elections from Bangalore South, a constituency that tended to favor the right-wing. The death of the 59-year-old Ananth Kumar’s will have a bearing on the BJP in Karnataka as he was seen as the only strong challenger to former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa.
But political analysts states his hold on the constituency that supported him six times was waning because of voter fatigue. Ananth Kumar’s track record in Lok Sabha polls was matched by a very less. His win over Nandan Nilekani, the iconic former UIDAI chief and a co-founder of Infosys, gave him a clear advantage. Ananth Kumar was seen as most likely to go for the chief minister whenever the BJP came to power but caste considerations came in the way.
In March 1998, he was given the major ministry of civil aviation. But his duration was ridden with controversies especially over the award of orders for Airbus aircraft to Indian Airlines. The then Indian Airlines managing director, PC Sen, who fell out with him, was sacked overnight. Ananth Kumar’s organizational skills came to the fore when he was able to get the GST Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha even though the BJP did not attain the requisite majority. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Extremely saddened by the passing away of my valued colleague and friend, Shri Ananth Kumar Ji. He was a remarkable leader, who entered public life at a young age and went on to serve society with utmost diligence and compassion. He will always be remembered for his good work.”