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India

Pushkar Singh Dhami, Mamata Banerjee: CMs Who Lost Their Seats, But Retained Power

The Constitution does not bar a person from becoming a minister of a chief minister without being a member of the legislature.

Uttarakhand CM-designate Pushkar Singh Dhami being welcomed with flowers during his oath taking ceremony, in Dehradun, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Pushkar Singh Dhami on Wednesday took oath as the Uttarakhand Chief Minister for a second term in office. The 46-year-old leader was sworn in at a ceremony held at Parade Ground in New Delhi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Apart from Dhami, eight ministers were also administered the oath by Uttarakhand Governor Lt Gen (retd) Gurmit Singh.

Dhami became the Chief Minister despite losing the Uttarakhand Assembly elections from his constituency, Khatima, as BJP retained trust in him following the party’s win in the polls. He had been representing the Khatima constituency since 2012.

The BJP had won 47 of the 70 Assembly seats in the elections, the results of which were declared on March 10. To continue as Chief Minister, Dhami needs to be elected to the state Assembly within six months.

This is not the first time a leader has lost his/her own seat and yet become the Chief Minister.

On May 5, 2021, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee became the Chief Minister of West Bengal after losing Nandigram to her protege-turned-bete noire Suvendu Adhikhari.

Banerjee became the West Bengal Chief Minister despite objection by the Opposition as the Constitution does not bar a person from becoming a minister of a chief minister without being a member of the legislature. The person taking oath of the office is required to get elected as a legislator within the next six months.

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.

However, back in 1996, in Kerala, CPM’s Chief Ministerial candidate V S Achuthanandan came very close to becoming the CM again but lost his seat and was deprived of the top post. In today’s time, Achuthanandan would have become the chief minister even after losing his seat. In those elections, LDF had won 80 out of 140 seats, but Achuthanandan had lost Mararikulam seat by 1965 votes. The post was then given to EK Nayanar, who had held the position twice earlier.

In a similar case, in 2008 Congress leader CP Joshi lost the Assembly election in Rajasthan by one vote and ultimately the post of chief minister. Later, it was found out that his wife did not cast her vote, former CEC SY Quraishi had said according to a report.

Going further back in time, Morarji Desai had been named the chief minister of the then State of Bombay (which later bifurcated into Maharashtra and Gujarat), despite finishing second. This was in the first Assembly elections in 1952. However, his constituency, Bulsar Chikhli, was one of 47 two-member constituencies, according to a India Today report. So, technically he was a winner and was maded the Bombay chief minister.