Basavaraj Bommai is the new Karnataka Chief Minister

Mr. Bommai will be sworn in on July 28 at 11 a.m.

In a choice that underlined a keenness to protect the Lingayat vote base rather than indulge in risky experiments, the BJP on Tuesday chose 61-year-old Basavaraj Bommai as the next Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Significantly, Mr. Bommai, who joined the BJP only in 2008, is not from the RSS stables and was earlier associated with the JD(U). This makes him an exception among BJP Chief Ministers in the State. He is a moderate face, not known to take a hardline Hindutva stance and an amenable man across party lines.

Basavaraj Bommai (2nd row, black mask), sitting with other BJP legislators during the legislative party meeting to choose the next chief minister of Karnataka in a hotel in Bengaluru on July 27, 2021.
| Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Mr. Bommai met Governor Taawarchand Gehlot late at night on Tuesday and will be sworn in alone on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Though there had been intense and wild speculation on the possibility of the BJP throwing a โ€œsurpriseโ€ choice, the saffron party played it safe by going with Mr. Bommai who does not disrupt the caste calculations and, significantly, is seen as a man who is close to the Lingayat strongman and outgoing Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa. He also meets the long-pending demand for a man from North Karnataka to be at the helm of affairs in the State.

The decision came just a day after 78-year-old Mr. Yediyurappa resigned with tears in his eyes, at an event organised to mark the second anniversary of his chief ministership โ€” a bumpy ride marked by dissidence, allegations of corruption and nepotism. Mr. Bommai, in contrast, will be seen not only as young and educated, but also non-controversial.

In a day of quick and dramatic developments, the BJP Legislature Party meeting was convened and central observers dispatched from Delhi. At the late evening meeting, the name of Mr. Bommai was proposed by Mr. Yediyurappa and seconded by former Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol. The choice was later announced by central observer Dharmendra Pradhan at a crowded press conference.

Speaking after staking claim, Mr. Bommai thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party, besides Mr. Yediyurappa whom he described as his mentor.

โ€œI have been chosen unanimously by the BJPLP. I will not fail the expectations of Mr. Modi, the party, Mr. Yediyurappa and will give a pro-people administration. I will take all measures to improve the health of the economy hit by the pandemic. I will serve the people with the blessings of the elders,โ€ he said.


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