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Should only Elected legislators be eligible for Chief Minister? | UPSC

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UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper II: Polity & Governance

Sub Theme: Elected Legislators as CMs | UPSC


  • The sudden exit of Tirath Singh Rawat as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, a development the Bharatiya Janata Party sought to explain in terms of a constitutional roadblock to being elected as a legislator within six months, has led to thickening speculation about the fate of West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, another unelected Chief Minister.

What was the problem in UK CM case?

  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951, mandates that a byelection for any vacancy should be held within six months of that vacancy arising, provided the remainder of the term is not less than one year or the EC and the Centre do not certify that holding the bypoll in that time frame is difficult.

Why is it a problem? (Two Problems)

Problem Number 1: Constitution assumes CM as a legislator

We have a parliamentary democracy, which essentially means that whoever has the confidence of the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha, in the case of the Centre, will be the Prime Minister.

Article 75 Clause(3)

Article 164 Clause(2)

It also requires that all Ministers should be a Member of Parliament (MP) or get elected within six months. Anybody who is a Minister and is not an MP for six months automatically stands to be disqualified from the administration.


Article 75 Clause(5)

Article 164 Clause(4)


What is the problem?

  • It visualises the Chief Minister as being elected by the members of the House of their own free will. And it assumes that the Chief Minister is a member.
  • There is a party high command, especially in the case of national parties, which decides who will become the Chief Minister. Effectively you have removed the whole concept of the person being the popular choice of the elected people.

So, the Chief Minister is an indirectly elected person by the directly elected members. But now the Chief Minister dictates how each of those persons will vote, because with the anti-defection law, we have weakened that accountability mechanism drastically

Problem Number 2: Holding of two constitutional positions:

If you look at various other parts of the Constitution, it’s clear that the Constitution expects a person not to hold more than one constitutional position at a time.

  • Article 101, it says that if a person is a member of both Houses of Parliament, he or she loses membership of one; if a person is an MP and gets elected as an MLA, or vice versa, he or she has about 14 days to resign from one.

When you are an MP and become the Chief Minister, you are the head of the executive of that State.

  • So, what is your primary role?
  • Is it to vote as a Member of Parliament?
  • Or is it to be in the State and attend the State’s legislature and be accountable to it?

We should definitely amend the Constitution to say that if you are going to be the Chief Minister or a Minister of a State, you should resign your membership of another House before taking up the role. That is, one should not occupy two constitutional offices concurrently.


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