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Rediff.com  » News » Bommai was a man of conviction who never gave up his values

Bommai was a man of conviction who never gave up his values

October 11, 2007 02:34 IST

Former Karnataka chief minister Somappa Rayappa Bommai belongs to a rare breed of politicians known for their refusal to compromise with their values and convictions in public life.

A veteran freedom fighter and labour leader who espoused the cause of the farming community, Bommai was baptised into politics through M N Roy's Radical Democratic party and was elected a member of the state Assembly in 1967.

Bommai is credited with strenously building and nurturing the Janata Dal Parivar with which he remained associated for about four decades till his death.

A man who never compromised values he believed in, Bommai was born into a farmer's family in Karadagi village of Dharwad district on June 6, 1924.

A man of conviction, Bommai was responsible for installing the first ever non-Congress government in Karnataka in 1983, ending an uninterrupted rule by Congress.

Though Janata Party of which he was the president got only 83 seats, Bommai managed to cobble a majority roping in the support of Bharatiya Janata Party, Kranti Ranga and independents.

Despite his genuine claim to chief ministership, Bommai displayed a great degree of patience and was instrumental in installing Ramakrishna Hegde at the helm of first non-Congress government.

Bommai's long wait for the post of chief minister ended on August 13, 1988, after Hegde chose to resign in the wake of a phone-tapping scandal.

However, Bommai could remain in office only till April 21, 1989, when a section of his own partymen withdrew support to him and the Rajiv Gandhi government at the Centre dismissed the Bommai government.

Bommai challenged his dismissal in the Supreme Court whose trendsetting verdict in the case became a benchmark as it stipulated that the best way to ascertain if the head of a government enjoys legislative majority was the floor of the House.

Bommai, a prominent leader of north Karnataka region, had contributed immensely to the unification movement of the state and fought relentlessly for the development of the neglected region.

Karnataka government had on January 9 this year honoured Bommai with 'Karnataka Ekikaran' award in recognition of his contribution to the unification of the state.

Bommai, who served as a member of the legislative council was also elected to the assembly from Hubli rural constituency between 1972-78, 1983-85 and 1985-1988.

He was the leader of the opposition for two spells.

Bommai had also served as the minister for industries, labour, finance and revenue, besides a stint at the national level when he was inducted into the Union Council of Ministry headed by H D Deve Gowda in 1997.

After the disintegration of the Janata Party into various splinter groups and in the wake of disagreement with his long-time close friend Deve Gowda, Bommai floated his own outfit All India Progressive Janata Dal and remained its chief till his death.

With the death of Bommai, who always dreamt of bringing together the splinter groups of Janata Dal to build it as a political force against Congress and BJP, the Janata Parivar has lost one of its stalwarts.

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