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In his father's footsteps: Meet Basavaraj Bommai, the new chief minister of Karnataka

He joined the BJP in 2008 and was elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from the Shiggaon constituency in the Haveri district. A close confidante of BS Yediyurappa, he held the home minister portfolio in the previous government.

July 28, 2021 / 02:37 PM IST
Basavaraj Bommai.

Basavaraj Bommai.


From a mechanical engineer who worked at Tata Motors in Pune or Telco as it was known then, Basavaraj Bommai, 61, has come a long way. Elected as the 30th chief minister of Karnataka on July 27 and was sworn in the next day, he replaced BS Yediyurappa and will take charge of the state for the remaining time until assembly elections in 2023.


Basavaraj Somappa Bommai was born on January 28, 1960, to SR Bommai and Gangamma S Bommai in Hubli. He belongs to the Lingayat community, which accounts for 17 percent of Karnataka’s population. A soft-spoken man and non-aggressive compared to some of his peers, Bommai has kept a clean image at the party.

His father, SR Bommai, was the 11th chief minister of Karnataka and the founder of Janata Dal (United). Basavaraj Bommai’s political career began when he was elected as the general secretary with Janata Dal in 1995. He led an arduous Pada Yatra (walkathon) of farmers in 2003, where he covered a length of 232 km from Dharwad to Nargund for the Mahadayi Project.

“Bommai is a well-known face in the party. His choice seemed easy as the other CM candidate, Arvind Bellad, is a young man and still new to the political game. Many MLAs had reservations to work under a younger politician,” said Ravi Hegde, Editor-in-Chief, Kannada Prabha.

He joined BJP in 2008 and was elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from the Shiggaon constituency in the Haveri district. A close confidante of BS Yediyurappa, he held the home minister portfolio in the previous government.

In an exclusive interview with CNN News18, Basavaraj Bommai said, “Yediyurappa gives a free hand to ministers; his experience and guidance will be the leading light for me in my administration.”

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Some political analysts say he has a lot of challenges ahead of him. His immediate challenge is tackling the pandemic and vaccination programmes. Another significant task ahead of him is managing his available resources when the state has taken a massive hit from COVID-19.

But as time goes on, his success will be measured in how he will make use of Yediyurappa’s strength and, at the same time, walk out of his shadow.

His experience in the party, political connections, and clean image will come to his aid. However, within these strengths lies his weakness: he has not yet proved to be a mass leader, and he is not a very good orator.

Basavaraj Bommai appears to have traversed diverse territories, from a mechanical engineer at Tata Motors to Janata Dal to the Chief Minister of Karnataka. However, he has reached the highway now where many challenges await him.
Payaswini Ranganath
first published: Jul 28, 2021 02:37 pm
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