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Basavaraj Bommai: The new Karnataka chief minister is a seasoned political leader and Yediyurappa loyalist

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Karnataka’s chief minister-designate Basavaraj Bommai has demolished the myth that only a core BJP member, not those who joined the party from outside, can lead the government.

While a few BJP leaders took to intense lobbying to succeed Yediyurappa, Bommai played his cards close to his chest, running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. In the past two months, ever since the leadership uncertainties gained pitch, Bommai maintained a low-profile, seldom making his ambition public. He pledged his loyalties to Yediyurappa, the formidable political figure of the Lingayat community. Yet, he maintained a distance. And, he was careful enough not to rub the CM’s biters on the wrong side.

The 61-year old five-time legislator knows first hand the distress farmers battle day in and day out, and at the same time, the hardships of the business community. An engineering graduate from Hubballi, he worked at the Tata Motors for three years before taking to entrepreneurship and later a deep plunge into politics, under his dad the late SR Bommai’s tutelage. His father was a chief minister in the 1980s, and is immortal in the law books after the Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment disapproving the way he was removed as CM.

The new CM’s long time Cabinet colleague S Suresh Kumar calls Bommai a seasoned political leader, with experience in handling diverse portfolios such as water resources, law & parliamentary affairs, home, and finance as Karnataka’s representative in the GST Council. “His biggest advantage is his exposure to politics and Public life from a very young age. He is well-read.”

Bommai’s political climb has been slow and gradual. In his younger days, as an active member of Janata Dal, he helped organise mega rallies and events.

Unlike some of his colleagues who stuck to the JD(U) for ideological reasons, Bommai made the switch and won for the first time from Shiggaon in 2008. There has been no looking back ever since.

In the first ever BJP government in the South, Yediyurappa gave Bommai the plum portfolio of Water Resources. In fact, the only time he distanced himself from Yediyurappa was in 2013 when the latter walked away from the BJP to float his own regional party.

In 2019, when Yediyurappa took charge as the chief minister for the fourth time, he made Bommai the home minister. All through his political journey, he stayed off controversies.

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