‘Invincible’ Dharam Singh
For the low profile, controversy-shy but an astute politician, Narayan Singh Dharam Singh, occupying the coveted Chief Minister’s post has come as a dream come true in his four-decade long checkered political career.
A sober political leader by all standards, Singh has earned the sobriquet “ajatha shatru” (a man without enemies) and is known for taking things as they come.
Hailing from a microscopic Rajput community in the State, Singh has emerged as one of the front-ranking leaders of North Karnataka region, winning from the backward Jewargi Assembly constituency for eight consecutive terms.
Endowed with vast political and at least two decades of administrative experience, Singh has been one of the top commanders of the Congress for his organizational skills.
Affectionately known as “sweet hearted” in his close circles, he missed the chief minister’s chair by a whisker in 1999, when the Congress chose to install the then KPCC (Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee) President S M Krishna who coasted the party to victory in polls.
As KPCC President earlier, Singh has played a key role in reviving the flagging fortunes of the Congress, which was then headed at the national level by late Sitaram Kesri, for whom Singh was said to be his favorite.
Avoiding getting entangled in controversies is one thing Singh has scrupulously followed throughout his political career, which began as an independent corporator in Gulbarga City Municipal Council.
Later in the late 1960s, he joined the Congress and remained a staunch loyalist since then, without deserting the party even when it passed through its worst times at different stages.
He did not follow in the footsteps of his mentor former chief minister late D Devaraj Urs when he broke away from the Congress and floated his own outfit, nor when his close friend and another former chief minister S Bangarappa resigned from the party.
After the Congress was voted to power with comfortable majority, Singh, unlike his close friend and senior minister Mallikarjun Kharge, did not throw his hat in the ring when the issue of choice of chief minister came.
“If everyone elects me unanimously, I will take up the post. I don’t want to engage in competition,” he had said then.
Without showing any signs of disappointment, Singh joined the Krishna ministry and handled the Public Works Department portfolio.
On earlier occasions as a minister, he had deftly managed the portfolios of Home, Excise, Social Welfare, Urban Development and Revenue.
Apart from his four-decade long association in State politics, Singh was also a Lok Sabha member once from Gulbarga Parliamentary constituency in 1980, thus having a brush with national politics for a brief period.
He gave up the Gulbarga Lok Sabha seat to accommodate C M Stephen, the then Union Home Minister in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet, after he lost the election in Delhi to Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Known for his adaptability, he had worked in the ministries of late R Gundu Rao, Bangarappa, Veerendra Patil and Krishna.
Born on December 25, 1936 in Nelogi village of Jewargi taluk [Gulbarga district], Singh is a product of the Osmania University in Hyderabad and was a practicing advocate.
He is the second leader from Gulbarga to become the chief minister after late Veerendra Patil.