Somanna, who lost to Siddaramaiah in Karnataka Assembly polls, gets Central berth

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Bengaluru, Jun 9 (PTI) BJP leader V Somanna, who reluctantly and unsuccessfully contested against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the Assembly polls a year ago, is now part of the new union council of ministers, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It seems to be a sweet turn of events for Somanna, who was reportedly sulking and there were speculations about him allegedly planning to join the Congress, over being sidelined by the BJP, ahead of 2023 Assembly elections. The veteran leader, however, had denied it.

He won the Tumkur Lok Sabha segment by a margin of 1,75,594 votes, against Congress' S P Muddahanumegowda in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

The Lingayat leader, who started off as member Bruhat Bangaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in 1983-87, has grown politically steadily and has had his stint in all the three key political parties in the state -- Janata Dal (erstwhile), Congress and BJP.

The 73-year-old had served as Housing Minister in the previous BJP government in the state, and had unsuccessfully contested 2023 Assembly polls from Varuna, the home turf of Siddaramaiah, and also in Chamarajanagar against C Puttarangashetty.

Somanna was a staunch follower of the prominent and revered Lingayat pontiff of Siddaganga Math -- late Shivakumara Swami -- who was considered "walking god" by his devotees.

Somanna was born on July 20, 1951, to Veeranna and Kempamma in Doddamaralavadi of Ramanagar district.

He was elected as MLA from Binnypet here on a Janata Dal ticket in 1994, and served as Minister for Prisons and Minister for Bangalore Urban Development from 1996-1999.

In 1999, he was again elected from Binnypet as an independent. In 2004, he entered the Assembly for a third time, this time on a Congress ticket, and shifted to Govindaraj Nagar segment in 2008.

However, he subsequently quit the seat and the party to join the BJP, and was rewarded with a ministership. But he had to resign from the post, as he faced defeat in the by-poll to a Congress candidate.

From 2010-2018, he served as the Member of Karnataka Legislative Council.

Somanna was a member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from Govindraj Nagar, representing the BJP from May 2018 to May 2023.

When the BJP came to power, he served as Minister of Horticulture and Sericulture (2019-20) and as Minister for Housing and Minister for Infrastructure and Development (2021-23).

Somanna, who was sulking over allegedly being sidelined in the party affairs, was reportedly in a dilemma about whether to leave the BJP and join the Congress ahead of the Legislative Assembly elections.

He was asked to shift from his Govindaraj Nagar segment to contest from Varuna against Siddaramaiah along with Chamarajanagar, but lost both seats.

Somanna, who had asked for Chamarajanagar seat, was reluctant to contest in Varuna initially. But he had gained confidence with the momentum of campaigning that saw participation from top BJP leaders.

Somanna had later repeatedly expressed his displeasure and took a veiled dig against the party veteran B S Yediyurappa and the party, when the BJP decided to appoint the latter's son B Y Vijayendra as state president of the party.

He had publicly asked the party to consider him for the state president's post.

Somanna is married to Shailaja and they have three children. PTI KSU RS KH