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Asleep In The Big City

Bangalore South: Ananth Kumar

Asleep In The Big City
Nilotpal Baruah
Asleep In The Big City
Senior BJP leader and former Union minister H.N. Ananth Kumar has represented the Bangalore South seat since 1996. Unlike the previous four terms, there’s no Ayodhya or Vajpayee wave this time. Instead, there is a BJP government in Karnataka. "If he is fifth time lucky, he’ll owe his victory to chief minister Yediyurappa," says a shopkeeper.

The complaint against Ananth Kumar is that he is "never available" and has done "very little". To add to this, he has a formidable opponent in Krishna Byre Gowda of the Congress. Then there is Captain Gopinath, founder of Air Deccan, who is contesting as an independent. As if to counter the "inaccessible" charge, Ananth Kumar has set up "AK Connect"—a mobile multimedia platform for people to reach him.

Among his claims are that as Union civil aviation minister, he ensured the signing of the Bangalore international airport MoU and got the Planning Commission’s approval for a Bangalore metro. However, popular perception attributes Bangalore’s development to the former S.M. Krishna government. "There’s nothing one can attribute to Ananth Kumar," says B.A.V. Rao, a constituent.

Ananth Kumar did not respond to Outlook’s questions, but his utilisation of MPLADS funds between 2004 and 2008 shows that he has spent nearly 40 per cent of the funds on infrastructure development, 23 per cent on education, 21 per cent on health, 13 per cent on basic amenities and the rest on miscellaneous projects. But if one goes through the works he has funded since becoming an MP in 1996, it is an inventory of donations from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh to organisations of all hues. Contributions for school buildings and purchase of computers top the list, followed by halls and expenditure on parks and gymnasium equipment.

So, with little to show, Ananth Kumar may have to bank on what goodwill the BJP government of Yediyurappa may have gathered.

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