New Delhi: Basavaraj Bommai may have joined the BJP way back in 2008, but his family’s political history came a full circle only on Tuesday after his name was announced as the next Karnataka Chief Minister.
His father, SR Bommai, occupied the position for a brief period in the 1980s, making a whole lot of difference to Indian politics.
The state Home Minister will now succeed the 78-year-old BS Yediyurappa who tearfully announced his resignation on Monday after weeks of speculation.
The BJP veteran is considered the tallest leader alive today of Karnataka’s Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which constitutes 16 per cent of the state’s 68 million population. His departure was risky business for the BJP since the party has had strong backing from this segment for long.
While it can’t be anyone’s claim that zeroing-in on Mr Bommai as replacement was easy, the choice may be easily justified.
An MLA from Shiggaon in central Karnataka’s Haveri district, Mr Bommai, too, is a Lingayat — although the term ‘Basava’ also means ox in Kannada, it resonates the name of Basaveshwara, the 12th century founder of the community.
Before joining the BJP, he was with the Janata Dal United, defecting, along with 22 others JDU functionaries.
Ironic, since his staunchly socialist father, a leader of the Janata Party and later Janata Dal, is best remembered for a landmark battle in the Supreme Court — SR Bommai versus Union of India — that he fought after losing his government in Karnataka following such defection.
The judgment in that case laid down certain guidelines against the misuse of Article 356 by the Central government to impose President’s Rule on states with unfriendly governments.
Basavaraj Bommai began his political career with the Janata Dal and was a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council twice. He served as political secretary to former Chief Minister JH Patel and was also Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Council.
Since crossing over, Mr Bommai has remained a close confidant of Mr Yediyurappa and has risen in the party ranks to last helm the state’s Home Ministry and, earlier, the Water Resources Ministry.
A mechanical engineer by training, he worked for Tata Motors in Pune for three years before turning entrepreneur.
Married to Ms Chennamma, Mr Bommai has a son and a daughter and is a permanent resident of Dharwad district.
His interests include reading, writing, playing golf, and cricket.