To be a politician requires tremendous grit. One needs giant-sized willpower to be able to be among the masses and prove one’s worth to people as well as the party one is associated with. In a large state like Karnataka, several veteran politicians have risen through the ranks from their humble beginnings.
Stalwarts like Siddaramaiah or BS Yediyurappa did not have any political backing. While one grazed cattle, the other worked in a rice mill, but both went on to become the chief minister of the state.
Take a look at 5 first-generation politicians from Karnataka
From grazing cattle in the fields to becoming a law graduate from Mysore University without any formal schooling, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who goes by a single name, is only the second CM in the state from May 13, 2013, to May 17, 2018, after Devraj Urs to complete five years in office.
Born to Siddarame Gowda and Boramma in a remote village called Siddaramanahundi of Mysore district, Siddaramaiah belongs to the Kuruba (shepherd) community. He has his roots in the Janata Parivar and was influenced by the Dr Ram Manohar Lohia brand of socialism. He plunged into politics after Nanjunda Swamy, a lawyer in Mysore, spotted Siddaramaiah at the district courts and asked him to take the political plunge in the year 1978, reported The Indian Express.
He was elected to the Mysore taluka and in 1983, and entered the Assembly from Chamundeshwari on a ticket from Bharatiya Lok Dal. After leading the Congress to victory by achieving an absolute majority in the 2013 state elections, Siddaramaiah was appointed the 22nd Chief Minister of Karnataka. He is contesting the upcoming Karnataka elections from Varuna seat.
He is married to Parvathi and has a son Yathindra, who is a doctor and a politician. His other son Rakesh died in 2016 due to multiple organ failure.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa is a crucial figure in the BJP’s attempts to retain power in Karnataka, in the upcoming polls. The Lingayat strongman, despite opting out of elections, is a leader whom the central leadership is banking on to see the party to a victory.
In 2019, Bhookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa, the BJP veteran was sworn in as the Karnataka chief minister for a record fourth time.
Born on February 27, 1943, Yediyurappa, also known as BSY, has been an eight-time MLA from the Shikaripura seat in Shivamogga district. His son Vijayendra Yeddyurappa is contesting from the seat this time after his father announced retirement from electoral politics.
He was born to Siddalingappa and Puttathayamma in Bookanakere in Mandya district. In 1965, he got a job as a first-division clerk in the social welfare department but instead, he shifted to Shikaripur where he joined as a clerk at his relative’s rice mill. In 1967, he married Mythradevi, the daughter of the owner of the rice mill, and later set up a hardware shop in Shivamogga, reported The Hindu.
In 1970, he was appointed as the secretary of the RSS, and in two years, he was elected as the president of taluk unit of Jan Sangh. His political journey began when he was elected as the president of Shikaripur Town Municipality. And there was no looking back post that, and in 2019, he was sworn in as the CM of the state for the fourth time.
Kelachandra Joseph George, son of agricultural labourers from Kerala who shifted to Karnataka sometime in the ’60s, is one politician who has been a close confidante of former Chief Ministers, including Siddaramaiah and S Bangarappa.
A five-time MLA, George will be contesting the upcoming elections from the Sarvagna Nagar Assembly Constituency in Bengaluru on a Congress ticket. He had won the 2018 elections against BJP candidate MN Reddy by a margin of 53,304 votes, and in 2013 as well as 2008 he had won from the seat.
The former Karnataka home minister joined the Congress in 1968 and thereafter his political innings began. The minister is also a multi-millionaire businessman reportedly owing racehorses, and real estate businesses, reported The Indian Express.
Earning the title of “trouble-shooter” of the Congress in Karnataka, DK Shivakumar, a seven-time MLA and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president is among the richest politicians of the state. Coming from a modest agrarian Vokkaliga family, his rise and dominance in Karnataka politics is the result of hard work and assiduous grassroots management, along with financial muscle.
Born into a farmer family, Shivakumar played a leading role in the Youth Congress since his RC College Days, reported The News Minute. He tasted his first electoral success when he was elected to the Zilla Panchayat in 1987, and became an MLA in 1989 for the first time defeating Janata Party candidate by a huge margin.
He hails from Kanakpura and is also contesting the elections this time from the Assembly constituency. He has declared assets amounting to Rs 1,413.78 crore in the 2023 Karnataka elections, a jump of 68.29 per cent from 840.08 crore in the 2018 polls, reported PTI.
Congress leader Laxmi Hebbalkar, who is contesting from the Belagavi (Rural) Assembly segment, is seeking to retain her home turf in the May 10 polls. She is pitted against BJP’s Ramesh Jarkiholi.
Wishing to see a woman chief minister or deputy chief minister in the future, Laxmi told news agency PTI that she is a first-generation politician and grew from grassroots as a simple worker since 1998.
She is the former chief of the Karnataka Congress’ women’s wing. In the upcoming elections, Laxmi is a key candidate, and when asked if her party had fielded her to increase the representation of women in the Legislature, she said, “We all know that winning is a criteria (in elections). And me, Roopakala M (Kolar Gold Fields MLA), Anjali Nimbalkar (Khanapur) and Sowmya Reddy (Jayanagar) won from four constituencies where the Congress had rarely won.
“We have proved that women can win in constituencies where the party had lost hope. We are giving our own example to the party high command and trying to convince them to give tickets to women in such constituencies. We have assured the party that we will fight and come back with a victory.”