Bangalore: A man rooted in ‘Janata Pariwar’ for two-and-half-decades and known for strident anti-Congress stance, it has been a remarkable turn-around for Siddaramaiah, who was sworn in as Karnataka’s 28nd Chief Minister on Monday.
From early 1980s to 2005, Siddaramaiah who comes from a poor farmer’s family, was a die-hard anti-Congressman but his ouster from JDS of former Prime Minister Deve Gowda brought him to political crossroads.
Joining the Congress less than seven years ago, he has today realised his life-time ambition, another example that patience and perseverance eventually pays. After the fractured verdict in 2004, the Congress and JDS formed a coalition government, with Siddaramaiah, then in JDS, being made deputy Chief Minister with Congress N Dharam Singh becoming Chief Minister.
Siddaramaiah holds the grouse that he had the opportunity to become Chief Minister but Gowda scuttled his prospects. In 2005, he chose to position himself as a backward classes leader – he is from Kuruba community, the third largest caste in Karnataka by spearheading AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) conventions, coincidentally at a time when Deve Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy was seen as a rising star of the party.
Siddaramaiah was sacked from JDS, where he had earlier served as its state unit chief, with critics of the party insisting that he was removed as Deve Gowda was keen to promote Kumaraswamy as the party’s leader. Siddaramaiah, an advocate, at the time also talked about “political sanyas” and even toyed with the idea of going back to his law practice. He ruled out floating a regional outfit, saying he can’t muster money power. Both the BJP and the Congress wooed him to join them.
But Siddaramaiah said he did not agree with the BJP ideology and joined the Congress with his followers in 2006, a move considered “unthinkable” only a couple of years earlier then. Rustic in appearance at times, and not known to mince words, 64-year old Siddaramaiah never hid his ambition to become chief minister and had repeatedly stressed on it unapologetically and unhesitatingly.
Besides in 2004, Siddaramaiah had narrowly missed the Chief Minister’s “gaddi” in 1996 also after the incumbent Deve Gowda went on to become the Prime Minister. Siddaramaiah was pipped by JH Patel in whose Cabinet he was Deputy Chief Minister. Both under Deve Gowda and Patel, he served as Finance Minister.
Siddaramaiah, who had grown to become a mass leader, has the distinction of presenting as many as seven state budgets as Finance Minister. His friends say he has a somewhat “over-powering” personality and remains steadfast in his goals.
He edged out veteran Congress leader and Union Labour and Employment Minister M Mallikarjuna Kharge in a straight contest in last week’s Congress Legislature Party meeting. A product of ‘Janatha Pariwar’, influenced as he was by socialism advocated by Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, he bade adieu to his profession as an advocate to pursue political career.
Making his debut in the Assembly in 1983, elected from Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysore on a Lok Dal party ticket, he later joined the ruling erstwhile Janata Party. He was the first Chairman of ‘Kannada Kavalu Samiti’, a watchdog committee which had the mandate to supervise the implementation of Kannada as official language formed during Ramakrishna Hegde’s chief ministership. Later he became Sericulture 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. However, Siddaramaiah tasted defeat in the 1989 and 1999 Assembly elections. He was Chairman of the KPCC Publicity committee of Elections in 2008.
Born on August 12, 1948 at Siddaramanahundi, a village in Mysore district, Siddaramaiah graduated from Mysore University with BSc degree and later did his Law degree from the same University and pursued it as a profession for some time. Siddaramaiah is married to Parvati and the couple has two sons.