An unlikely link between Karnataka’s Basavaraj Bommai, Siddaramaiah
Bengaluru: Unlike BS Yediyurappa, who worked for more than 40 years to build the BJP in Karnataka, Basavaraj Bommai, joined the saffron party in 2008. Bommai who comes from the Janata Dal (United), is the second politician in the last two decades to have migrated from the Janata Party and get the chief ministerial post in the new party. Siddaramaiah, who migrated to Congress from Janata Dal (Secular) in 2006, went to become the chief minister after the Congress party swept the election in 2013.
Son of former chief minister SR Bommai, Basavaraj started his political career with the Janata Dal and worked with senior leaders including HD Deve Gowda and Ramakrishna Hegde. Bommai was a strong leader from the Janata Parivar. Bommai Junior left the Janata Dal (United) and joined the BJP in February 2008.
According to politicians and analysis in the state, the disintegration of the Janata Party into insignificant factions and the Gowda family dominating the only prominent faction, the JD(S); several leaders migrated to other parties.
“The most important thing to understand is that Janata Party came as an opposition to the Congress and because of this, several leaders rooted among the people came to the forefront. The work at the grassroots levels in the state made them strong leaders. Many of the big leaders like HD Deve Gowda, SR Bommai and Ramakrishna Hegde came from the Janata background. But the Janata Party also produced junior leaders who are coming to prominence now,” said senior Congress leader, who didn’t want to be named.
He said that the leaders with the Janata Party backgrounds are the backbone of both the Congress and the BJP. “If you look at the assembly, you will see who are strongly defending their parties. In the Congress Siddaramaiah, RV Deshpande and even someone young like Krishna Byre Gowda, are all from the Janata Parivar. If you look at BJP also the strong leaders like Bommai, (JC) Madhuswamy and V Somanna, they are all from the Janata Parivar,” he said.
A Narayana, a political analysist and faculty at the Azim Premji University said that it is important to understand why good leaders emerged from the erstwhile Janata Party. “People with a liberal and progressive approach are against the BJP , a similar situation prevailed against the Congress in the 1970s. At that time, those who were well-read and progressive stood against the Congress party, this resulted in the Janata Party became an incubator for good leaders,” said Narayana.
Even though Bommai and Siddaramaiah come from the Janata Parivar, they can’t be compared or be judged on the same platform, said another Head of Department of Political Science in a prominent institute in Bengaluru, who didn’t want to be named. “Their ideologies are certainly different now, so it is not fair to put them in the same bracket now. However, because of their background in Janata Party, they are certainly less communal. Even within the BJP, leaders who have come from the Janata Party or for that matter someone like Yediyurappa, who is a farmer leader, is way less communal in their politics compared to the RSS faction of the BJP,” said the professor.