November 12, 2018 2:08:48 pm
Just a few days ago, someone asked me about who my friends in Politics were. Unhesitatingly I mentioned Ananth Kumar as one of the only two people that I considered as a friend in the world of Politics. And today I have lost him.
It’s when you lose a friend that you come to the realisation that as you travel through the journey of life, one is fortunate if you come in contact with a few good people. People that make you feel that you are fortunate to have them in your life. Ananth Kumar was that for me.
I have known him for 24 years, having met him first in 1994. He was a young ABVP and BJP leader, had an infectious enthusiasm. I was a US returned budding entrepreneur and we became close though our worlds were far apart. He would talk to me about politics and I would talk to him about technology and telecom. Soon I got drawn into discussions about politics and governance with him and he would unlike most other politicians encourage my thoughts. I remember him riding his scooter with his jhola into my office often.
He soon became one of the youngest cabinet ministers in Ataljis government, but remained unaffected by the arrogance that often seeps into ministers. Unlike many ministers that develop amnesia about their pre-minister days, he kept all his friendships intact.
The BJP in those days was like a startup with a culture where access and ideas could be easily had and shared. I was a young nobody, but he encouraged my interest in politics and soon started involving me in many elections – Karnataka and National – always gracious and keen that I learn and contribute.
The BJPs rise in Karnataka as its only bastion in the South was undeniably a result of the Yeddyurappa-Ananth Kumar team. He was a hard worker and took on various tasks that were given to him and jokingly referred to himself as Akhil Bharatiya Mazdoor Parishad. When the team developed rifts on many occassions, I would try my best to repair the misunderstandings sometimes at my own behest and sometimes at behest of leaders like Atalji and Advanji and then Prabhari of Karnataka Ved Prakash Goel. And Ananth Kumar never put his ego before the party.
Of course, as is vaunt with politics anywhere, there were ups and downs in his career, but despite all that came his way (and there was some setbacks and humiliation that he had to endure) he was ever positive and cheerful. I developed a lot of patience and dealing with disappointment in people from him.
In 2006, when Deve Gowda first put the idea of a political career in front of me, it was Ananth Kumar who first supported me in Karnataka BJP. He patiently mentored me through those early political years of mine. Our politics and ideas were very aligned and he encouraged my activism style politics and fighting for Bengaluru. Earlier this year, when I was inducted into the BJP, he was very happy calling it my homecoming. He was and is the only political leader that my entire family – ranging from my parents to my children – knew well and interacted with.
This May, after a trying and hectic Karnataka election campaign, tipped off by a source, I confronted him on his health. He brushed aside my concerns and request to take some rest and was instead focussed on delivering a successful Parliament session. He was always like that: thinking of party, government and family before himself. But through that whole session in Parliament, while it was clear to me that he was unwell, he continued business as usual rushing from LokSabha to RajyaSabha and energetically ensuring legislative business of the government got done.
His family life was simple and built around his values. His wife Tejaswini, throughout these last few months, struggled with Ananth Kumar’s treatment, travelling as private patients to the US seeking a cure without any government support or paraphernalia. To the end he lived as he lived always – simple.
To me, he was and always will be an eversmiling cheerful friend. He would send me countless jokes and ask that I share them with my kids. He was and is truly one of the most genuine good people I have known and respected in politics for whom friendship and respect mattered more than sycophancy and transactions. He was for me my brother and mentor. I will miss him and his friendship deeply.
You left too soon but farewell my brother and friend.
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