Outspoken Siddaramaiah finally realises his dream

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Karnataka Chief Minister-designate K. Siddaramaiah flashes thumbs up after the Congress Legislature Party meeting at KPCC office in Bangalore on Friday.
Karnataka Chief Minister-designate K. Siddaramaiah flashes thumbs up after the Congress Legislature Party meeting at KPCC office in Bangalore on Friday.

Bangalore:  Rustic in appearance at times, the outspoken K. Siddaramaiah is not known to mince words and hide his ambitions.

And whenever some ruling BJP members tried to taunt him over his ambition, Mr. Siddaramaiah, the Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, used to get aggressive and declare without hesitation that he would become Chief Minister.

On Friday, he was proved right after being elected CLP leader and becoming the Chief Minister-designate. Luck also seems to have played its part. The shock defeat of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara in the May 5 Assembly elections made things that much easier for him.

With better hold among the legislators, Mr. Siddaramaiah, who has the distinction of presenting as many as seven state budgets as Finance Minister, could pip veteran Congress leader and Union Labour and Employment Minister M. Mallikarjuna Kharge in a straight contest.

He narrowly missed the Chief Minister’s post in 1996 after the incumbent H.D. Deve Gowda went on to become Prime Minister. Mr. Siddaramaiah, who hails from Kuruba community, the third largest, was pipped by J.H. Patel. Both under Mr. Gowda and Mr. Patel, he served as Finance Minister.

After the split of Janata Dal as JD(U) and JD(S), he sided with the latter headed by Mr. Gowda and became president of the party’s State unit.

A product of the Janata Parivar, influenced as he was by socialism advocated by Ram Manohar Lohia, he bade adieu to his career as an advocate and entered politics.

Siddaramaiah made his debut in the Assembly in 1983 after being elected from Chamundeshwari constituency on a Lok Dal party ticket and later joined the then ruling Janata Party.

He was the first chairman of the Kannada Kavalu Samiti, a watchdog committee which had the mandate to supervise implementation of Kannada as official language formed during Janata leader Ramakrishna Hegde’s tenure as Chief Minister.

In the mid-term elections two years later, he was re-elected and served as Minister for Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services in the Hegde government.

After conducting three AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and dalits) conventions during the period when he tried to position himself as backward class leader, he was sacked from the JD(S) in 2005, at a time when Mr. Gowda’s son H.D. Kumaraswamy was seen as a rising star of the party.

Mr. Siddaramaiah joined the Congress with his followers in 2006. In December 2007, he was elected in a by-election from Chamundeshwari in Mysore.

Born on August 12, 1948 at Siddaramanahundi, a village in Mysore district, Mr. Siddaramaiah hails from a poor farming family. He graduated from Mysore University with a BSc degree and later did Law from the same university and pursued it as a profession for some time.

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