How Didi can remain CM despite losing Nandigram
Even as Mamata Banerjee has lost the assembly election in Nandigram to BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari — a loss her party has said she will challenge — she can easily remain the chief minister of West Bengal.
Article 164 of the Indian Constitution lays down the conditions of taking oath as a minister. Article 164(4) says, “A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.”
In other words, Banerjee will get six months to get elected from any Bengal constituency in a by-poll to hold on to the CM’s chair. In 2011, when Banerjee took oath as the CM for the first time, she was a member of Parliament as she didn’t contest the assembly elections. After a few months, she got elected from Bhabanipur.
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Congress leader and legal expert Abhishek Singhvi said, “Constitutionally, legally and morally, no one can or should object to Mamata Banerjee becoming the CM and getting elected within six months. If anyone objects, it would not only be churlish but would also betray a lack of knowledge of the Indian constitution.”
The TMC’s win is its third successive one in the state and tightens Banerjee’s hold over the state, something that seemed tenuous weeks ago. It also strengthens her standing nationally in a non-BJP, non-Congress grouping. The fact that she held off the challenge from a pantheon of national leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi is certain to add to her image as a fighter. An emphasis on welfare schemes, and a campaign focused on portraying Banerjee as “Bengal’s daughter” helped overcome anti-incumbency, and a spate of defections engineered by the BJP, including her one-time protege Adhikari, who defeated her in Nandigram.
Much like for state assemblies, a similar provision of becoming minister first and getting elected later also exists in Parliament. Article 75 (5) of the Constitution said, A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of either House of Parliament shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.”