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How is a Chief Minister Selected ?

Posted by Admin on October 3, 2014 | Comment

Chief Minister is the elected head of the state government. His authority and power in the state is akin to what Prime Minister enjoys at the national level. Although the Article 154 of the Indian Constitution gives executive power of the State to the Governor, yet the de facto executive authority rests with the Chief Minister.

How a CM is selected

Qualifications to Become a Chief Minister

Going by the Constitutional mandate, an individual has to meet a certain set of qualifications to be eligible for the position of a Chief Minister. To be a citizen of India is the fundamental criteria. The individual should be at least of 25 years of age or more. Moreover, he should be a member of the state legislature. There’s an exception to this rule. An individual who is not an MLA can be considered as the CM provided he gets himself elected to the State Legislature within six months from the date of his appointment. Failing which, he would cease to be the CM.

Selection of a Chief Minister

Instead, it should be ‘Once the results of legislative assembly elections are out and a political party or alliance gets a majority stake,  the MLAs of the said party/coalition sit and elect a head for them, then  the Governor invites that leader to form the government.  In case of a fractured mandate wherein no political party secures a majority, the Governor can choose to follow any of the two practices: 1. Principle of Non-Assessment 2. Principle of Assessment.

As per the principle of Non-Assessment, the Governor can ask the leader of the single largest party to form the government. If the party refuses to do so, the Governor can then approach other parties in the order of precedence. According to the principle of Assessment, the Governor makes his own assessment and decides which party can form the government.  

The responsibility then shifts to the party MLAs to propose the name of the CM of the state. As a next step, a vote of confidence is conducted in the legislative assembly. The chief minister is elected through a majority vote. Governor appoints and swears in the Chief Minister.

He remains in his position till the time the assembly is dissolved or for a maximum of five years. The Chief Minister can be elected for a number of terms provided he retains the confidence of the assembly.

Key Recommendations of Sarkaria Commission

Sarkaria Commission, which was set up by the union government, had recommended methodologies when it comes to electing a Chief Minister.  According to the commission, the Governor should seek advice from “the party or combination of parties” commanding majority support in the Legislative Assembly. The commission had suggested that in case a single party doesn’t get absolute majority in the Assembly, the Governor should select a Chief Minister from an alliance of parties formed before or after the polls.

The CM, according to the Commission, can also be selected from among the “largest single party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others.” The Commission also recommended that a Chief Minister who belongs to a party that doesn’t have absolute majority in the Assembly, must seek a vote of confidence in the Assembly within 30 days of his appointment.