Basavaraj Bommai will be new Karnataka Chief Minister

BJP opts for safe choice of B.S. Yediyurappa loyalist and Lingayat.

July 27, 2021 08:13 pm | Updated November 22, 2021 09:57 pm IST - Bengaluru

Basavaraj Bommai, third from left, shows the victory sign after being elected Chief Minister. Photo: Special Arrangement

Basavaraj Bommai, third from left, shows the victory sign after being elected Chief Minister. Photo: Special Arrangement

In a choice that underlined a keenness to protect the Lingayat vote base rather than indulge in risky experiments, the BJP on Tuesday chose 61-year-old Basavaraj Bommai as the next Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Significantly, not from the RSS stables and earlier associated with the Janata Dal (United), Mr. Bommai joined the BJP only in 2008. This makes him an exception among BJP Chief Ministers in the State. He is a moderate face not known to take a hardline Hindutva stance and an amenable man across party lines.

Mr. Bommai met Governor Taawarchand Gehlot to stake his claim to form the government late at night on Tuesday and will be sworn in alone on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

No surprises

Though there had been intense and wild speculation on the possibility of the BJP throwing a up “surprise” choice, the saffron party played it safe by going with Mr. Bommai who does not disrupt the caste calculations. Significantly, he is seen as a man who is close to the Lingayat strongman and outgoing Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, which implies that the latter still holds sway. Seers from the Lingayat-Veerashiva community had interpreted Mr. Yediyurappa’s ouster as an “insult” to the community and the choice of Mr. Bommai would assuage these hurt sentiments at least partially.

Mr. Bommai also meets the long-pending demand for a person from North Karnataka to be at the helm of affairs in the State. Also, Mr. Bommai is only the second Chief Minister whose father (S.R. Bommai) also served in the same post, just as JD(S) father-son duo of H.D. Deve Gowda and H.D. Kumaraswamy.

 

The decision on the next Chief Minister came just a day after 78-year-old Mr. Yediyurappa resigned with tears in his eyes, at an event organised to mark the second anniversary of his tenure — a bumpy ride marked by dissidence, allegations of corruption and nepotism. Mr. Bommai, in contrast, will be seen not only as young and educated, but also non-controversial.

In a day of quick and dramatic developments, the BJP Legislature Party meeting was convened and central observers dispatched from Delhi. At the late evening meeting, the name of Mr. Bommai was proposed by Mr. Yediyurappa and seconded by former Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol. The choice was announced by central observer Dharmendra Pradhan at a crowded press conference.

Speaking after staking his claim, Mr. Bommai thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party, besides Mr. Yediyruappa whom he described as his mentor. “I have been chosen unanimously by the BJPLP. I will not fail the expectations of Mr. Modi, the party, Mr. Yediyurappa, and will give a pro-people administration. I will take all measures to improve the health of the flagging economy hit by the pandemic. I will serve the people with the blessings of the elders,” said Mr. Bommai.

Tough times

Later, he added, “I have been given this responsibility at a critical time amidst floods and COVID-19 pandemic. I will work my best to give a pro-people government.” Taking a veiled dig at other aspirants who lobbied for the chief minister’s post, he said he never went to Delhi as he does not believe in any race. “The leadership has recognised me and given this responsibility, which I will work hard to live upto,” he said.

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