Bengaluru, July 28: Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday took oath as the new Chief Minister of Karnataka, ending months of speculation about the change of guard in the state.
The 61-year-old leader was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot at the Raj Bhavan here.
The Karnataka BJP legislature party on Tuesday evening elected him as its new leader to succeed B.S. Yediyurappa.
Bommai, a Lingayat leader from North Karnataka, is a close confidant of Yediyurappa and, according to party sources, there is an imprint of the veteran BJP leader in this succession plan.
Son of former Chief Minister late S.R. Bommai, he was Minister for Home Affairs, Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Legislature in Yediyurappa's council of ministers which was dissolved on Monday.
It's the second instance of a father-son duo becoming Chief Minister of Karnataka, after H.D. Deve Gowda and H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Bommai is a three time MLA from Shiggaon constituency in Haveri district and has been MLC twice.
Yediyurappa, and Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and G. Kishan Reddy who were appointed as central observers by BJP's parliamentary board for the legislature party meet,
party's national general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh, state president Nalin Kumar Kateel and a host of others attended the swearing-in.
Bommai, who alone took oath on Wednesday, said he will try and expand the Cabinet soon. "I had met central observers Dharmendra Pradhan, Kishan Reddy and General Secretary Singh, they said let's not discuss it today, once they go back to Delhi let's see," he said in response to a question by reporters on expanding the cabinet.
Asked whether he will wait for the month of 'Ashada' considered inauspicious) to get over for undertaking the expansion, he said, "nothing like that, we will do it at the earliest, won't take too much time because I need a complete team to do the work as there is COVID and floods."
When questioned whether he will continue with the same Ministers, Bommai said all these are part of the cabinet formation exercise and "everything will be decided together", adding that he will discuss and decide about his Delhi visit.
Ahead of the swearing-in, Bommai met Yediyurappa and also BJP central leaders – Pradhan, Reddy and Singh.
Though Yediyurappa had said he would not name his successor, it is clear that he had a major say in the selection of Bommai, who is known for his "clean and non- controversial" image.
The BJP was said to be looking at bringing in a generational shift, but by picking a leader from the Lingayat community, the party's key vote base to which Yediyurappa also belongs, the party has chosen to play it safe ahead of the assembly polls in 2023.
In recent days, leaders and seers from the politically-influential community, which accounts for 16-17% of the population, had solidly rallied behind Yediyurappa seeking his continuation as CM, while some had said that in case the Lingayat strong man is removed, he should be replaced by another leader from the community.
Assuring an efficient, honest and people-friendly government, Bommai said, by taking everyone together, he will work as the first among the equals, rather than a Chief Minister. "The government will work as a team."
"Our government will come to the rescue of people affected by COVID and other health issues, also floods... all our decisions will be with keeping in mind the last person of the society- the poor, the farmers, backward and the downtrodden, and also to get rid of regional imbalance," he said.
Bommai said he will chair a single member cabinet, and get an update from officials today. ".. amid the current financial limitations, after discussions, I may take certain decisions. There are financial and social challenges before us, and with cooperation from everyone, will try to overcome them,"he added.
Bommai, who started his political career with the Janata Dal, was seen working as Yediyurappa's shadow in the just-dissolved BJP government, following him at the meetings, events and press briefings, and assisting him.
Ending months of speculation over his exit, Yediyurappa on Monday stepped down as the Chief Minister, coinciding with his government completing two years in office.