Basavaraj Bommai: A Brief Profile

Basavaraj Bommai: A Brief Profile Basavarj Bommai's swearing-in
  • Bommai’s election as CM is history repeating itself as his father S R Bommai too had been chief minister under similar circumstances in 1983.

Karnataka’s new Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai was sworn into office this morning after putting all speculations to rest and setting the tone for the state’s politics in the months to come.

For all the drama that unfolded—beginning with an alleged audio leak regarding the dismantling of the government and CM probables, the landing of Lingayat seers who almost subtly threatened to withdraw support to the BJP if Yediyurappa resigns, to his tearful resignation and more than half a dozen names doing the rounds—this appointment comes as a dampener. But, it silences most of the voices within the party that were expressing dissent earlier.

Bommai was elected the chief of the legislative party yesterday with outgoing CM Yediyurappa announcing his name at group's meeting in Bengaluru. He took oath as the CM today at 11 am and is the single man cabinet at the time of writing.

While most observers are dismissing this as an anti-climax to all that has unfolded in the last one week, for the BJP it is a smooth transition of power. Its large support base of Lingayats stays intact as Bommai belongs to the Sadara Lingayat subsect. For Yediyurappa, it is just seems as a change of role, as Bommai is a close confidante and hence all talks of stunting the former's hold over the state‘s politics are brushed aside. At least for now.

Though a strong lieutenant of Yediyurappa, Bommai had not followed him when he left the BJP to form his own KJP in 2012. However, he reaffirmed his loyalties to BSY upon his return to the party earning him the goodwill of the Lingayat leader.

Bommai was then seen as an extension of the Lingayat stalwart in the previous cabinet as well. He was seen almost as a shadow of BSY, standing by his side all the time, including when the BSY was hinting at a probable resignation.

For the JDS-Congress rebels who have joined the BJP recently, Bommai's elevation comes as an assurance that ‘outsiders’ too stand a chance. Bommai himself comes from the Janata Dal and joined the BJP only in 2008.

Bommai is a two-time MLC and three-time MLA from Shiggao-savanna constituency of Haveri district in northern Karnataka. He held the home, law and parliamentary affairs portfolio under Yediyurappa ‘s leadership in the previous cabinet and the water resources and cooperation ministry in before that. He has also served as the political secretary to former CM J H Patel and the Deputy leader of the opposition in the council.

The 61-year-old was also district incharge minister for Haveri and Udupi in the recently dissolved cabinet. He made his entry into state politics in 1994 when he contested from the JD(S) against now party colleague and yet another former CM from the region, Jagadish Shettar. Bommai lost that election.

Bommai’s election as CM is history repeating itself as his father S R Bommai too had been chief minister under similar circumstances in 1983. Somappa Rayappa Bommai was the eleventh chief minister of Karnataka and one of the three key leaders who crafted the victory of the Janata party in 1983, the year in which Yediyurappa won as the MLA for the first time.

SR Bommai had taken over as the chief minister after Ramakrishna Hegde quit on moral grounds in 1988, although Bommai's government was dismissed by the governor in 1989. He had then gone on to challenge this decision in the Supreme Court and the judgement became a landmark one that redefined centre-state relations in the country.

As he addressed the media for the first time today after taking charge, Basavaraj Bommai spoke about his interaction with the bureaucrats and said “I have told the officers that a ”Chalta hai“ attitude won't work and that before 31 March all departments will have to reduce all needless expenditure, a minimum of 5 per cent reduction in unwanted expenditure”.

In one of his first announcements after taking charge, Bommai announced a special scholarship for higher education for children of farmers with an allotment of Rs 1,000 crore. He also announced a raise in pension that will benefit 35 lakh pensioners in the state, with monthly pension for widows and the physically challenged going up from Rs 600 to Rs 800, and the Sandhya Suraksha pension being raised from Rs 1000 to Rs 1200.

“When I say BSY’s guidance, I mean all the schemes and people friendly policies that he has formulated during his tenure will continue in the same spirit,” clarified Bommai to a question by the press.


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