The Bharatiya Janata Party faced a morale set back with its most prominent and active leader, who made an indelible mark both in Karnataka and national politics, suddenly leaving the scene.
HN Ananth Kumar, 59, union minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Chemicals and Fertilizers passed away in the early hours on Monday at a private hospital in Bangalore where he was treated for advanced stage lung cancer. He underwent initial treatment in Bangalore, after he was diagnosed with cancer in June, and then went to the US and the UK for further treatments. He returned home some 25 days ago and continued his treatment in Bangalore. The infection by then had spread to other organs which led to his demise.
Kumar was the only BJP leader from Karnataka who found a comfortable place in the inner coterie of Modi and party president, Amit Shah. He was often called the shadow of the PM and some of his cabinet colleagues were envious of the close proximity and company he enjoyed with Modi and the party High Command.
In fact, Ananth Kumar was an inner circle member even when senior party leaders Atal Biahri Vajpayee, LK Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi were controlling the party. Ananth Kumar’s demise has created a huge vacuum in the state for the party. He was expected to have played a very critical role in readying the party and boosting cadre for the 2019 elections.
Kumar was a vociferous and loud voice for the party and a strong advocate for Karnataka in the national capital. He had a spectacular rise in his political career and he was able to make it big in the central political stage at a very young age. He was the youngest minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet in 1998. Post that he held other key portfolios including Civil Aviation, Tourism, Sports & Youth Affairs, Culture, Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation.
Kumar was a six-time parliamentarian and he won his first Lok Sabha election in 1996 from Bangalore. He played a key role in BJP's success in Karnataka and was instrumental in bringing the party to power in the first south state in 2008. He was an active worker for ABVP, the students' wing of the RSS, before he forayed into mainstream politics in 1987. He was born in a middle-class Brahmin family in Hubbali on July 22, 1959.