NEW DELHI: Mamata Banerjee has led the Trinamool Congress to a spectacular electoral triumph against the BJP but failed to win the prestige battle against her former aide-turned-foe Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram.
Now, the question arises whether the TMC supremo can still become the chief minister of West Bengal.
The short answer is: Yes, she can.
According to Article 164 (4) of the Indian Constitution, 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.
This means that Mamata will have six months to get elected to the legislative assembly through a byelection. In case she fails to get re-elected within this stipulated period, she will have to step down as the chief minister.
There have been several instances of leaders who have been chief minister hopefuls despite losing from their constituencies or not contesting the polls.
In 2011 for instance, Mamata was a Lok Sabha member when her TMC first came to power in the state. She became the chief minister and later won the byelections from the Bhawanipore constituency in September that year.
In states which have a legislative council, a candidate can also become the CM by getting elected as an MLC.
In 2017, UP chief minister Yogi Adiyanath took oath as an MLC to continue on his post. He didn’t contest the assembly elections that year.
Since Bengal doesn’t have a legislative council, Mamata’s only route to staying on as chief minister is through assembly bypolls.
But what if the CM loses the bypolls?
There have been instances of that too.
In 2009, Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren lost the byelections from Tamar. This led to the imposition of President’s Rule in the state.
However, such a scenario is quite rare.