Can Mamata Banerjee continue as Chief Minister? Learn from Justice Katju

Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.(File Photo: IANS)

Mamata Banerjee can continue as CM

By Justice Markandey Katju

Despite her defeat in Nandigram, Mamata Banerjee need not resign as Chief Minister of West Bengal. This is because of Article 164(4) of the Indian Constitution which 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 “.

That the word ‘Minister’ includes the Chief Minister becomes clear from Article 164(1) which states :

“The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, —“.

The words “other Ministers” indicate that the Chief Minister is also regarded a Minister for the purpose of Article 164.

So Mamata Banerji can continue as CM for 6 months without being a member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. Within these 6 months she can contest a bye election and get elected. One of her own party’s MLAs may be asked to resign ( and offered some other post like chairmanship of some public corporation ), and Mamata can then contest for the vacant seat.

This time, however, she will take no chances. She will obviously opt for a safe seat where her victory is certain.

The Trinamul Congress seats are almost the same as in the 2016 elections. The drastic change in this election is that Congress and the Left parties have been practically wiped out, while there has been a huge increase for the BJP ( from 3 to 77 ). This is because of the religious polarisation in recent years of West Bengal, a state which till recently was regarded a bastion of secularism

Interesting times are coming in West Bengal.

(Justice Markandey Katju is former Chairman, Press Council of India and former Judge, Supreme Court of India.)

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