In what will be seen as the biggest anti-climax in this round of Assembly polls, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lost in Nandigram to her former protégé-turned-BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari while her party won a landslide victory in the state.
Banerjee can still take over as chief minister but will have to get elected in the next six months to continue in the post.
Article 164(4) of the Constitution states: “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.”
Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap said, “She (Banerjee) can become the chief minister. The chief minister is also a minister. The Constitution says he or she can become a minister for six months…a non-member can become a minister, but he or she has to be elected within those six months to continue”
If he or she is not elected at the end of six months, the person “loses the ministership”, Kashyap said.
Yogi Adityanath, for instance, was not an MLA when he took over as Uttar Pradesh CM in 2017 — he was elected an MLC within six months. In fact, both his deputies — Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya — were elected MLCs along with him within six months.
This is not the first time in recent past that a sitting CM has lost the election and the party has gone on to form the government.
In 2017, Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar lost from Mandrem seat but BJP went on to form the government with the help of regional outfits such as Goa Forward Party and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and some Independent MLAs. But BJP did not make Parsekar the chief minister; instead, it sent then Defence Minister, late Manohar Parikkar, to take over the reins in Goa.
Another interesting situation came up in Jharkhand in 2009, when CM Shibu Soren lost in a by-election — perhaps the second time an incumbent CM has lost in a bypoll.
In 1970, then Uttar Pradesh CM Tribhuvan Narayan Singh had lost a by-election, and had to subsequently resign. Soren’s defeat, however, had resulted in imposition of President’s Rule in Jharkhand.
There are several instances of CM hopefuls losing elections, and their party winning. In 2017, BJP’s CM candidate in Himachal Pradesh, Prem Kumar Dhumal, lost while his party won the election.
In 2014, the BJP won in Jharkhand but Arjun Munda, who was the front-runner for the post of CM, lost. In 1996 Kerala Assembly elections, the biggest surprise was the defeat of CPI(M) veteran V S Achuthanandan in Mararikulam Assembly constituency — he was tipped to be the LDF’s chief minister candidate.