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Siddaramaiah's political career began in 1983 when he was elected from the Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysore on a Lok Dal party ticket.
The Congress party leadership has finally decided that Siddaramaiah will be sworn in as the 30th Chief Minister of Karnataka. A veteran with many election victories, who has never shied away from openly expressing his aspiration for the Chief Minister's chair, Siddaramaiah is a mass leader and a strategist of the AHINDA movement, which catapulted Congress to power in the 2013 Assembly elections.
AHINDA, a socio-political concept in Karnataka representing minorities, backward classes, and Dalits, was first coined by Devaraj Urs, the state's first Backward Class leader. Siddaramaiah used the Ahinda strategy and also leveraged on the political turmoil within the BJP caused by BS Yediyurappa's defection to help bring the Congress to power.
Born on August 3, 1948, in Siddaramanahundi, a village in Mysore district, he came from a disadvantaged family and graduated with a BSc degree from Mysore University, followed by a law degree from the same university. Siddaramaiah then went on to practice law for a while. Siddaramaiah hails from the Kuruba community which is numerically important in the state.
While the Congress party has recorded a decisive victory in the state, questions on who will be the party’s choice for the next Chief Minister was on everybody’s mind. The two top contenders were Siddaramaiah, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and DK Shivakumar, chief of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). Both the leaders have been open about their chief ministerial ambitions in the past and there was a clear tussle between them even as the Congress celebrated a decisive victory.
Siddaramaiah, a political heavyweight won the Varuna Assembly seat, his home turf, defeating Bharatiya Janata Party's V Somanna. Shivakumar, displayed his winning streak for the eighth consecutive time by defeating B Nagaraju of the JD(S) by a margin of over 1.21 lakh votes. In the run-up to the polls, Siddaramaiah had stated that this would be his last election but he had made similar statements in 2018 and 2013.
During Siddaramaiah's previous term as Chief Minister, he implemented several significant initiatives, including Anna Bhagya, Ksheera Bhagya, and Indira Canteen. Additionally, he introduced the Anti-Superstition Bill to combat superstitious practices. The government also made efforts to improve healthcare services in the state. On the flip side, Karnataka experienced a high number of farmer suicides, particularly in 2016. Additionally, it was during Siddaramaiah's tenure, scholar, rationalist and teacher MM Kalburgi was shot dead at his residence in 2016 and journalist Gauri Lankesh was assassinated a year later. Siddaramaiah also proposed changes to the Karnataka Lokayukta that were perceived by critics as weakening the institution's power. In 2016, he established the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), which resulted in limiting Lokayukta's authority to independently file cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act or carry out raids. Furthermore, the ACB fell under the jurisdiction of the Chief Minister's office, raising concerns about potential political interference.
In 2014, the Siddarmaiah government ordered a Social and Educational Survey to be conducted for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. Karnataka stands out as the only state to have completed a comprehensive caste-based survey in decades. However, despite being conducted in 2015, the contents of the survey report have yet to be published. In their 2023 manifesto, the Congress party has promised to release the socio-economic caste census conducted by their government and ensure social justice.
The Siddaramaiah government faced controversy when it recommended separate religion status to Veerashaiva-Lingayats, a politically influential group in Karnataka. The decision did not go well and was seen as one of the major factors in ruining the prospects of Congress’ re-election in the 2018 Assembly elections, as right wing groups campaigned against the move saying it would divide Hindu society.
Siddaramaiah's political career
Siddaramaiah's political career began in 1983 when he was elected from the Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysore on a Lok Dal party ticket. Later, he joined the Janata Party and was appointed as the first Chairman of 'Kannada Kavalu Samiti,' which was responsible for supervising the implementation of Kannada as an official language. He later became the Sericulture Minister and then the Minister for Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services in the Ramakrishna Hegde government.
Siddaramaiah has had a tumultuous political journey, with several ups and downs. He tasted defeat in the 1989 and 1999 Assembly elections but was appointed Secretary General of Janata Dal in 1992, which HD Deve Gowda had also joined. He became the Finance Minister in the Janata Dal government after the 1994 state elections and was made Deputy Chief Minister when JH Patel became Chief Minister in 1996.
It is over his espousal of AHINDA that he earned the ire of his former mentor and JD(S) patriarch HD Deve Gowda. In 2005, he attended a massive AHINDA rally in Hubballi, which angered a powerful lobby in the Vokkaliga-dominated JD(S). He was sacked shortly after that from the JD(S) after being touted as the man who would inherit the party after Deve Gowda. Gowda had accused Siddaramaiah of engaging in activities detrimental to the growth of the JD(S) and termed his support for AHINDA as anti-party behaviour.
Following his departure from the party in 2005, he considered forming a regional party in Karnataka. Instead, he gained significant support from the Backward Classes and eventually joined the Congress party during a large public gathering in Bengaluru, which was attended by Sonia Gandhi.
Siddaramaiah joined the Congress party in Karnataka and won the Chamundeshwari bye-polls in December 2006. He was re-elected from Varuna Constituency in the 2008 Assembly elections and won the seat for the seventh time in 2013. He became the Leader of the Opposition in 2008 and then the Chief Minister after the 2013 Assembly polls. Siddaramaiah became the Chief Minister of Karnataka after the Congress party adopted a secret ballot to choose their new leader. He then led the Indian National Congress to a decisive victory in the 2013 Legislative Assembly elections, securing an absolute majority with 122 seats out of 224 and served as Chief Minister for a full five-year term, a record for the state in 40 years. He also held the record for presenting the state budget 13 times as a Finance Minister.
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