The elevation of Basavaraj Somappa Bommai’s to the coveted position of the chief minister of Karnataka, apart from giving a surprising shock to many within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and elsewhere, has given rise to eyebrows to many an onlooker. No doubt the high command’s pick was a big drubbing to the detractors of BS Yediyurappa, former chief minister. Probably, the pressure on the central leadership of the party was such that there’s no other way rather than zeroing in on a successor from the Lingayat community itself. The pontiffs’ belonging to several sub-sects of the Veerashiva-Lingayat community, to which BS Yediyurappa belongs to, came to the streets in favour of the latter. Initially, they pleaded for the continuation of BS Yediyurappa for the remaining two years of tenure. But when it became evident that such hopes are over, they put forth a vociferous demand for choosing a successor from the same community and that too from Panchamshaali Lingayats’.
However, BJP high-command had its own calculations. Firstly, it refused to budge against the demand of continuing BS Yediyurappa for the remaining period. Secondly, it looks it had no intentions of offending BS Yediyurappa further after stripping him from the saddle. On the other hand, it proved magnanimous enough in ensuring that a BS Yediyurappa’s ardent follower occupied the post contrary to the wishes of BS Yediyurappa’s opponents in the party in the state and New Delhi.
All those from the Veerashiva-Lingayat community among many others, let loose their own strategies to impress upon the central leadership for the pivoted position. It looks like all such game plans boomeranged, paving the way for an unassuming Basavaraj Bommai.
Interestingly, like many others in the flock, he never air-dashed every now and then to the country’s capital to make a big claim for the chief minister’s post. He remained stuck in Bengaluru, accompanying BS Yediyurappa all along. Perhaps, his patience and perseverance paid rich dividends ultimately in the end.
No Rubber Stamp Nor a Shadow of BSY: Basangouda Patil Yatnal, Vijayapura BJP MLA who takes pride every day in bashing the single state BJP mass leader was no different even with the choice of Basavaraj Bommai. He even went to the extent of charging BS Yediyurappa for ensuring that he himself did not become the chief minister!
He takes fancy in claiming every now and then that the party can only return to power in the next general elections if people with Hindutva background are made ministers. MP Renulacharya, former Political Advisor of the former chief minister shot back: “These days, Basangouda Patil Yatnal has started speaking like a champion of Hindutva causes. But where had these concerns vanished when he had left the party to join the Janata Dal-Secular?”.
But contrary to Yatnal’s sweeping remarks of a BS Yediyurappa’s Rubber Stamp or Shadow, Basavaraj Bommai has come a long way in politics. In fact, as his family members recollect, he belongs to the third generation of politicians within the family. Thanks to his father SR Bommai, former chief minister, Union Minister and Janata Dal national president Basavaraj Bommai has been seeing politicians of all hues and kind since childhood days only.
He is known by most of the previous generation politicians as their own family boy. Probably that’s one of the reasons, he mixes freely with top leaders, irrespective of the party, region and community. If he’s fondly known as Basu in close-knit circles, he’s popularly referred to as Basanna among his voters and followers. Unlike the hardcore rhetoric of some in BJP, he’s known for his sober stance. But at times, the level is so low that his utterances, tone and tenor after the police firing in Mangaluru a couple of years back were dubbed as too soft for a Home Minister.
Basavaraj Bommai, just like Murugesh Nirani and many others who were projected as ardent followers of BS Yediyurappa, was instrumental in persuading, promoting and fostering the utopian idea of forming the Karnataka Janata Party(KJP). They had also rest assured BS Yediyurappa of being behind him. But once BS Yediyurappa announced his own regional outfit, all his one time followers, admirers and companions including Basavaraj Bommai chose to remain at a safe distance, sticking hard to the saffron party, forget having anything to do with their so-called Godfather’s party!
This was about a decade ago. If Basavaraj Bommai could be so shrewd so long back, anyone expecting him to be BS Yediyurappa’s rubber stamp or shadow can only be pitied. It looks he has emerged much more mature in playing his cards in the right manner under new circumstances and changed political scenarios.
Multiple challenges haunt the new CM: The transition of power in the state turned out to be an unassumingly smooth affair. But the awaited follow up does not look to be all that easy. On the very second day, the new chief minister planned to visit the flood-affected regions in Uttara Kannada district. On the way, he visited Hubballi to pay homage to his parents’ samadhi. Interestingly, in spite of being the new chief minister’s maiden visit to his native place, local BJP leaders and legislators preferred to stay away from his schedule. However, Basavaraj Horatti, Chairman of Legislative Council and belonging to the Janata Dal-Secular found time to greet him. This development is a clear indication of all not being well in the new chief minister’s home district itself.
The chief minister’s two days visit to the national capital to call on the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Water Resources Minister, Health Minister, Finance Minister and the party president drew flak from the local broadcast media for neglecting the pathetic plight of flood-affected people. Little did they realise that his visit intended a mandatory courtesy call accompanied by reminders to the state’s demands, funds and GST compensation due for long.
First minister to be present: It was during his tenure as a Water Resources Minister,s Basavaraj Bommai attended the deliberations of the Mahadayi River Waters Tribunal for a whole day in New Delhi. By doing so he became the first such Minister to evince keen interest in interstate water disputes. In fact, he came to the limelight by spearheading the Kalasa Bandoor Nala movement a few decades ago. He led a padayatra for 232 kilometres demanding implementation of the Mahadayi River waters diversion project to fulfil the drinking water requirements of parts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag districts.
In the meantime, Basavaraj Bommai scored a hattrick in the Shiggavi constituency of Haveri district becoming a minister of several portfolios and has now become a chief minister. But the daily Dharana of Kalasa Bandoor Nala movement has completed Six years and there’re no signs of the demand becoming a reality.
Hubballi-Dharwad namesake second capital: The twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad are popularly referred to as the second capital of the state. But the state of affairs on the ground does not give you such an impression. In spite of contributing two chief ministers earlier, the roads in these cities will give you a free mud bath during summer. The public toilets in the city and KSRTC bus stands in both these cities are glaring examples of how badly they can be maintained.
Hubballi boasts of an IT Park. But when it comes to generating employment for the local youths the park continues to remain namesake. It’s no better case with the Industrial areas of the twin cities. The IT Park and Industrial belt cater only to C and D groups of employees.
The demands of the Kitturu (Mumbai) and Kalyan (Hyderabad) Karnataka make a big list. How many of them get attended and resolved needs to be waited and watched.