Mamata Banerjee won Bengal on Sunday but lost her own election in Nandigram, where her former aide-turned-BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari defeated her by a narrow margin after several rounds of counting.
The two-time Chief Minister has won a third term but does her Nandigram loss mean she cannot become Chief Minister?
She can, under the constitution.
There are Chief Ministers who are not part of the legislative assemblies in their states. Bihar’s Nitish Kumar has not contested an election for over three decades and was not in the November race either. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also did not contest the election.
Both are members of their state legislative councils – the Bihar and Maharashtra legislatures have two houses. But Bengal does not.
Mamata Banerjee has to become a member of the legislative assembly within six months. She can do so by contesting bypolls to any seat left vacant or where polls could not be held for some reason. Often MLAs are asked to step aside to enable their leader to contest a safe seat.
Article 164 of the constitution says a minister who is not an MLA within six months has to resign.
Long before the official results at Nandigram, Mamata Banerjee said she accepted what the people had decided.
“Don’t worry about Nandigram, I struggled for Nandigram because I fought a movement. It’s ok. Let the Nandigram people give whatever verdict they want, I accept that. I don’t mind. We have won the state,” she said.
“Whatever happened is for the best. I will not have to go that far regularly now, I am saved in that way. But I will go to the court because I have heard there were some malpractices,” added the 66-year-old Chief Minister.
The Election Commission rejected her Trinamool Congress party’s demand for a recount.