Engineer-turned politician Bommai said he never expected to be the CM
Bengaluru: Armed with ample blessings from former chief minister BS Yediyurappa, his political guide, Basavaraj Bommai (61) was sworn in as the 23rd Karnataka Chief Minister Wednesday by Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot in a brief ceremony in state capital Bengaluru Wednesday. Conveying a subtle message that he is still the boss, Yediyurappa was present on the stage.
A rank outsider who featured way below the heavyweight leaders, Bommai was picked for the top post in Karnataka at a meeting of BJP MLAs Tuesday. Such twists happened earlier too in his life. “I was a very reluctant politician. I am an engineer by profession and worked with Tata Motors. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. That’s why I came to Bengaluru but ended up being a politician,” he told the TV media in interviews.
Bommai offered prayers and sought blessings from Hanuman at the Bhagavan Sri Maruthi Temple and BSY ahead of the swearing-in. He said he was grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP national president JP Nadda for choosing him for the top seat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Bommai, saying he brings with him rich legislative and administrative experience. “I am confident he will build on the exceptional work done by our government in the state. Best wishes for a fruitful tenure,” he tweeted.
In a separate tweet, the PM praised BS Yediyurappa for his work for the party and the state. “No words will ever do justice to the monumental contribution of Shri @BSYBJP Ji towards our Party and for Karnataka’s growth. For decades, he toiled hard, travelled across all parts of Karnataka and struck a chord with people. He is admired for his commitment to social welfare,” PM Modi tweeted.
A three-time MLA from Shiggaon in central Karnataka’s Haveri district, Bommai comes from the powerful Lingayat sect like Mr Yediyurappa and was among his close confidantes. The Veerashaiva-Lingayat community forms 16 per cent of Karnataka’s 68 million population.
He was Minister for Home Affairs, Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Legislature in Yediyurappa’s council of ministers which was dissolved on Monday.
Bommai chaired the first Cabinet meeting where he cleared some key files and is expected to fly to Delhi at 4 pm along with BJP’s central observer Dharmendra Pradhan. He will be meeting the PM and other senior leaders.
Speaking to select media, he said: “I had kept my fingers crossed. I know that I was one among the six-seven leaders in the race. I have not been to Delhi. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, Home Minister Amit Shahji, Defence Minister Rajnath Singhji and BJP president JP Naddaji have reposed such faith in me. In spite of fierce competition, they have chosen me. I have promised the citizens of Karnataka that I will rise to the occasion and keep up whatever faith and trust they have in me”.
On his priorities, he said the immediate task is to bring life back to normalcy in flood-hit areas. After that he plans a series of meetings on how to prevent the third wave of Covid-19.
He does not have an RSS background and joined the BJP in 2008 during his second stint as a Karnataka MLC (Member of Legislative Council) as the Janata Dal-Secular nominee. He contested his first assembly election in 2008 as a BJP contestant and subsequently served three chief ministers — BS Yediyurappa, Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettar — over the next five years.
His father, SR Bommai, is always remembered for the famous Supreme Court case. The senior Bommai was the Karnataka chief minister in late 1980s. Dismissal of his government led to the landmark Supreme Court judgment that made floor test a mandatory requirement for the sacking of a state government and thereby curbing the misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution by the central government.
By choosing Basavaraj Bommai, the BJP has found a way to pacify the community sentiments and Yediyurappa, the 78-year-old architect of the BJP in the state.