Basavaraj Bommai, senior citizen but fitter new Chief Minister a BE Mechanical Engineer, keeps a low profile. He fluently speaks three languages including Hindi and so far is non-controversial. A close aide of BS Yediyurappa and former state Home Minister, Bommai comes from a political family but he is trained as a mechanical engineer. Bommai belongs to the powerful Lingayat community, like his predecessor Yediyurappa. He was first elected to the Karnataka Legislative Council in 1998. Quit the Janata Dal and joined the BJP in 2008.
Basavraj’s father S.R. Bommai became Chief Minister of Karnataka on 13 August 1988 and his government was dismissed under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution where the President’s Rule was imposed on the grounds that the incumbent government does not have a majority due to the defection of a large number of MLAs.
SR Bommai sought the permission of the then Governor to prove his majority but the same was not provided to him and therefore, he moved to the High Court against the decision of the Governor. The High Court dismissed his petition and therefore he was compelled to approach the Supreme Court of India.
Article 356 of the Indian Constitution is one of the essential provisions of the Constitution which deals with centre-state relations. It allows the Central Government; to take control of the state if a situation has arisen in which the State government machinery cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. In the above case, the court laid down the guideline for the use (alleged misuse) of Article 356 of the Indian Constitution.
The court said that the Proclamation of Emergency was subject to judicial review to the extent of examining whether the conditions precedent to the issuance of the Proclamation had been satisfied or not. The examination would necessarily involve the scrutiny as to whether there existed material for the satisfaction of the President that a situation had arisen in which the Government of the State could not be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Secondly, the court said that the Court had the power to overrule the Proclamation issued by the President whether it was approved by Parliament or not and which meant that the courts also had the power to restore the status quo.
In 1983, Sarkaria Commission was constituted to look into the Centre-State Relations and the Commission had suggested that Article 356 must be used only in extreme cases, as a measure of last resort where all other alternatives have been exhausted or fail to prevent or rectify a breakdown of constitutional machinery in the States, which was also what the intention of the Constitution framers all along.
The court supported the finding of the Sarkaria Commission and said that the warning must be issued to the errant State that it is not carrying on the government of the State in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. The court set aside the findings of the Karnataka High Court and restored the dismissed state government of Karnataka declaring that the proclamation issued in the state was unconstitutional.
He died on 10 October 2007 at the age of 84. His one son, M.S.Bommai was an industrialist in Bangalore, and the other son Basavaraj Bommai inherited his political legacy and went on to become the Chief Minister of Karnataka in 2021 at the age of 61. It is the second instance of a father-son duo becoming Chief Minister of Karnataka, after H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy.
Dealing with Yediyurappa is like walking on the rope. Remember what happened with D V Sadananda Gowda, who was also installed as CM by Yediyurappa. Bommai, who started his political career with the Janata Dal, was seen working as Yediyurappa’s shadow in the just-dissolved BJP government, following the outgoing Chief Minister at the meetings, events and press briefings, and assisting him.
With the resignation of B. S. Yediyurappa as the chief minister, there was a void in the BJP Karnataka. The central observers Dharmendra Pradhan and G. Kishan Reddy were sent by the union leaders to carry out the selection of the legislative party leader. On 27 July 2021, the former Home Minister in Yediyurappa’s cabinet, Basavaraj Bommai was elected the successor of Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa.
On 28 July 2021, he was sworn in as the 23rd Chief Minister of Karnataka, becoming the fourth chief minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state. On his first-ever day as the Chief Minister, after the cabinet meeting, he announced scholarships for higher education to farmers’ children. He also increased the pensions of widows, physically challenged and senior citizens of the state. It was a good beginning but no one knows how long he will sustain in power.