Early 2008 was a difficult year for Basavaraj S Bommai. His father and former chief minister SR Bommai was critical. His party Janata Dal United was in tatters and Basavaraj had no place to go.
According to some insiders, he wanted to go to Congress because it suited his ideology and mindset. But, the then Karnataka Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge was reluctant to take him.
After contemplating for sometime, he knocked on the doors of BS Yediyurappa. The BJP stalwart, who was moving earth and heaven to become CM again and take revenge on the Gowdas for their ‘betrayal’, happily welcomed him and fielded him from Shiggaon on BJP ticket.
That proved to be a great decision for him. BJP rode to power and Yediyurappa made him his Water Resources minister.
Soon he became his close confidante. He stood by Yediyurappa during the crisis. But, did not leave BJP when Yediyurappa walked out to form KJP in 2012.
Hardcore Yediyurappa supporters called him a betrayer for not going with him during his difficult days. But, a shrewd politician Bommai junior had sensed that Yediyurappa’s new party had little chance. He stayed in BJP and won again. A year later, a defeated Yediyurappa also returned to BJP.
Some thought or at least hoped that Yediyurappa would not forgive Bommai. But, they got along very well once again.
When Yediyurappa tried to topple the HD Kumaraswamy led JDS-Congress government in the state in 2019, Bommai backed him fully. In the BS Yediyurappa government he became home minister and acted as his shadow.
Yediyurappa always used to consult him on all issues and Bommai kept a low profile despite being too close to the CM. That has paid off handsomely now.
When many in the BJP government started lobbying for the post of CM, Bommai kept quiet and perhaps he knew that Yediyurappa’s blessing was necessary to succeed him. He was once again right. Yediyurappa who will not forgive and forget treachery, named Bommai as his successor.
With no RSS background and a relatively new innings in BJP, Basavaraj Bommai has surprised everyone by capturing the CM’s throne. Timely decisions and some luck have always favoured Bommai all through his 30 years political career.
In 1988, when CM Rama Krishna Hegde quit over telephone tapping controversy, his senior minister SR Bommai was at home smoking cigarettes and watching Hindi movie ‘Zanjeer’. The rest of his colleagues were busy lobbying for the post of CM. Finally, Hegde named Bommai as his successor.
It is a coincidence that both father and son became chief ministers in dramatic developments. History repeats.