Basavaraj Bommai, Lingayat Leader from North K’taka, Sworn in as CM; Succeeds BSY

Basavaraj Bommai, who was elected as the new leader of Karnataka BJP legislature party a day ago, took oath as the chief minister from Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot at the Raj Bhavan on Wednesday. He succeeded the outing chief minister BS Yediyurappa, and ended days of heightened suspense.

Bommai, a Lingayat leader from North Karnataka is a close confidant of Yediyurappa and according to party sources, there is clear stamp of the veteran BJP leader in this succession plan. Son of former chief minister, late S R Bommai, he was minister for Home Affairs, Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Legislature in Yediyurappa’s council of ministers which was dissolved on Monday.

It is the second instance of a father-son duo becoming chief minister of Karnataka, after H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy. “The new leader proposal was made by senior leader B S Yediyurappa and was supported by Govind Karjol, R Ashoka, K S Eshwarappa, B Sriramulu, S T Somashekar, Poornima Srinivas, and the newly elected legislature party leader and new Chief Minister will be Basavaraj Bommai,” BJP’s central observer and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced after the meeting.

Soon after the announcement, the three-time MLA from Shiggaon constituency in Haveri district, sought the blessings of Yediyurappa, whom he also called his “political guru” and he was greeted by other party leaders. The legislature party meeting to elect the new leader took place at a city hotel in the presence of Union ministers Pradhan and G Kishan Reddy who were appointed as central observers by BJP’s parliamentary board.

It was attended by BJP national general secretary in- charge of Karnataka Arun Singh, state president Nalin Kumar Kateel and national general secretary C T Ravi, among others. Soon after his election as the leader of the BJP legislature party, Bommai along with caretaker Chief Minister Yediyurappa drove to the Raj Bhavan to stake claim to form the government.

Thanking PM Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J P Nadda and parliamentary board members, Bommai said the legislature party has unanimously elected him as its leader and Yediyurappa has blessed him by proposing his name. “The trust and expectations that the people have in the BJP, also the expectations of a pro-people administration and to take Karnataka forward in all sectors- that our leaders PM Modi, Shah and Yediyurappa have, I will strive for it,” he said, as he thanked all the party leaders and legislators for the support.

Expressing confidence that he will take everyone in the party and the government together, Bommai said his priority is to resolve the trouble faced by the common man and the poor due to COVID and floods, and that he will work day and night for it. “I will also try to improve the financial situation of the state,” he said in response to a question and added that “no condition has been put (by the leadership).” Known for his “clean and non-controversial” image, Bommai is considered among the close confidants of Yediyurappa.

Though Yediyurappa had said he would not name his successor, it is clear that he had a major say in the selection of Bommai. The BJP was said to be looking at bringing in a generational shift.

But by picking a leader from the Lingayat community, the party’s key vote base to which Yediyurappa also belongs, the party has chosen to play it safe, ahead of the assembly polls in 2023. In recent days, leaders and seers from the politically influential community, which accounts for 16-17 per cent of the population, had solidly rallied behind Yediyurappa seeking his continuation as CM, while some had said that in case the Lingayat strongman was removed, he should be replaced another leader from the community.

A senior BJP functionary said, “Bommai is non- controversial, intelligent, politically-shrewd and compatible with Yediyurappa.” Another party leader said, Yediyurappa still being active in state politics may or may not come as an advantage to Bommai. “Only time will tell us how the equations will work…

Remember what happened with D V Sadananda Gowda, who was also installed as CM by Yediyurappa.” Bommai, who started his political career with the Janata Dal, was seen working as Yediyurappa’s shadow in the just-dissolved BJP government, following the outgoing Chief Minister at the meetings, events and press briefings, and assisting him. Ending months of speculation over his exit, Yediyurappa on Monday stepped down as the Chief Minister, coinciding with his government completing two years in office.

The Governor had accepted Yediyurappa’s resignation, and dissolved the Council of Ministers headed by him, with immediate effect, but had asked him to continue to function as Chief Minister till alternate arrangements were made.

(With inputs from PTI)

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