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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Basavaraj Bommai, Yediyurappa’s close aide, to be Karnataka’s next CM

Apart from being a leader of the dominant Lingayat community and close associate of Yediyurappa, Basavaraj Bommai is the son of former state chief minister and ex-Union minister, the late SR Bommai.

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru |
Updated: July 28, 2021 1:27:41 am
Basavaraj Bommai's name was proposed by Yediyurappa.

BASAVARAJ BOMMAI, who was the Home Minister under B S Yediyurappa, will be sworn in as the 23rd Chief Minister of Karnataka at 11 am Wednesday following his election as the new leader of the BJP state legislature party.

The 61-year-old, who joined the BJP only in 2008, is a former Janata Dal (United) leader and son of former Janata Party Chief Minister of Karnataka, the late

S R Bommai. He is also a close associate of Yediyurappa and member of the dominant Lingayat community like the former Chief Minister.

Bommai’s name was proposed at the legislature party meeting on Tuesday evening by Yediyurappa and supported by seven others.

The selection is being seen as a signal that Yediyurappa will wield sizeable clout in the state government — and that the BJP leadership is wary of the veteran leader who bid a tearful farewell Monday while suggesting that he was being eased out after two years at the helm.

Bommai’s father, S R Bommai, was the eleventh Chief Minister of Karnataka between 1988 and 1989, and a former Union Minister.

Basavaraj Bommai during the meeting. (Express photo)

“We have unanimously elected Basavaraj Bommai as the legislature party leader. I proposed the name of Basavaraj Bommai. He has full support from all of us. Basavaraj Bommai’s father was also a CM and Bommai also has vast experience from working several years as a minister. I am very happy to see a senior leader like him becoming the CM of the state,” Yediyurappa said.

Following the announcement, Bommai met the Governor to finalise the oath-taking ceremony. “I have been elected as the legislative party leader. B S Yediyurappa has built the party with his blood, sweat and tears. Under difficult circumstances, Yediyurapppa has run the government over the last two years. I will follow in the footsteps of Yediyurappa to implement programmes for the poor, provide justice to all sections of society and women,” Bommai said.

“I will be sworn in at 11 am on Wednesday. I will be the Chief Minister under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Yediyurappa. I will be sworn in alone tomorrow,” he said.

Bommai said his priority would be fighting the Covid crisis and helping flood-hit areas of the state.

Basavaraj Bommai (Left) with former CM Yediyurappa. (Twitter/BSBommai)

The selection of Bommai has sent out the message of a status quo in the state government with the BJP continuing to implement policies put in place by Yediyurappa. It also indicates that the BJP does want to tamper with its Lingayat vote base. “We can build the party under his (Bommai’s) leadership,” Yediyurappa said.

Following Yediyurappa’s exit, a few seers of the Lingayat community had warned that the BJP could suffer serious electoral losses in the state as a consequence. The community makes up nearly 17 per cent of the state’s 6-crore population.

Bommai, an engineer, has often been Yediyurappa’s right-hand man and unofficial prompter at official meetings on technical aspects. He has also been Yediyurappa’s main troubleshooter along with his close friend and Revenue Minister R Ashoka, who is a Vokkaliga.

Bommai had often been deputed by Yediyurappa to attend key meetings like that of the GST Council and on water-sharing disputes with neighboring states. He was also a key member of a Covid ministerial task force.

Yediyurappa, Bommai after his selection Tuesday. (PTI)

On Tuesday, soon after he was elected as legislative party leader, Bommai bowed at the feet of Yediyurappa and obtained his blessings.

The BJP is likely to appoint Ashoka as a new Deputy CM to balance equations between the two biggest caste blocks in the state — Lingayats in the north and Vokkaligas in the south — while retaining Dalit leader Govind Karjol, a close associate of Yediyurappa, as another Deputy CM, and also appointing SC leader B Sreeramulu as a Deputy CM.

The appointment of Bommai, however, does not seem to have gone down well with some rebels in the BJP who had campaigned for the ouster of Yediyurappa. “I will abide by whatever decision the BJP leadership has taken,” said party MLA and Yediyurappa baiter Basavaraj Patil Yatnal, who was also an aspirant for the Chief Minister’s post.

On Tuesday evening, Yatnal left The Capitol Hotel in Bengaluru in a hurry after the legislature party meeting. Another rebel C P Yogeshwara left the meeting without offering comments to the media.

However, one of the other contenders, Arvind Bellad, 51, from the Panchamshali Lingayat sub-sect, expressed full support for Bommai.

Earlier in the day, the BJP state in-charge Arun Singh and two central observers — Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Kishan Reddy — arrived in Bengaluru to lay the ground for the legislature party meeting.

Sources said Arun Singh visited Yediyurappa’s home where he was informed by the former Chief Minister that Basvaraj Bommai’s name would be proposed as his successor.

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