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CHIEF MINISTER (Constitutional Position)

In the scheme of Parliament system of government provided by the Constitution, Governor is the nominal executive and the Chief Minister is the real executive. In other words, the Governor is the head of the state while the Chief Minister is the head of the government. Thus the position of the Chief Minister at the state level is analogues to the position of Prime Minister at the Centre.

The following constitutional provisions can be noted in the context.

(i) Every state shall have council of minister headed by the Chief Minister to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his powers and functions, except the discretionary ones (Article 163).

(ii) The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor.

(iii) Other ministers shall be appointed by the governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. However, a Tribal Welfare Minister should be appointed in the states of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.

((iv) The ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor.

((v) The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the state Legislative Assembly.

((vi) The Governor shall administer the oaths of office and secrecy to a minister.

((vii) A minister who is not a member of the state legislature for any period of six consecutive months shall cease to be a minister.

((viii) The salaries and allowances of ministers shall be determined by the state legislature.

The 91st Amendment Act (2003) has added the following two more provisions:

(i) The total number of ministers, including the chief minister, in the council of ministers in the state shall not exceed 15% of the strength of the legislative assembly of that state. But, the number of ministers, including the chief minister, in a state shall not be less than 12.

(ii) A member of either House of state legislature belonging to any political party who is disqualified on the ground of defection shall also be disqualified to be appointed as a minister.

Powers and functions

The powers and function of Chief Minister can be studied under the following heads.

In Relation to Council of Ministers the Chief Minister enjoys the following powers as head of state council of ministers.

(i) He recommends person who can be appointed as ministers by the Governor. In other words, the Governor can appointed only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the chief minister..

(ii) He allocates and reshuffles the portfolios among ministers.

(iii) He can ask a minister to resign or advise the Governor to dismiss him case of difference of opinion..

(iv) He presides over the meetings of the council of ministers and influences its decisions..

(v) He guides, directs, control and coordinates the activities of all the ministers..

(vi) He can bring about the collapse of the council of ministers by resigning from office. Since the chief minister is the head of the council of ministers, his resignation or death automatically dissolves the council of ministers..

In Relation to the Governor

The chief minister enjoys the following powers in relation to the governor.

(i) He is the principle channel of communication between the Governor and the council of ministers. In this capacity, he performs the following functions (Article 167):

(a) To communicate to the Governor of all decisions of the council of ministers. In administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation.

(b) To furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the satte and proposals for legislation as the Governor may call for.

(c) If the Governor so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.

(ii) He advises the Governor with regard to the appointment of important officials like Advocate-General, Chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission, State Election Commissioner, and so on.

In Relation to State Legislature

The Chie Minister enjoys the following powers as the leader of the house.

(i) He advises the Governor with regard to the summoning and proroguing of the sessions of the state legislature.

(ii) He can recommend the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly to the Governor anytime.

(iii) He announces the government policies on the floor of the house.

Other Powers and Functions

In addition, the chef minister also has the following roles in the state administration:

(i) He is the chair of the State Planning Board.

(ii) He acts as a vice-chairman of the concerned Zonal Council by rotation, holding office for a period of one year at a time.

(iii) He is a member of the Inter-State Council and the National Development Council, both headed by the Prime Minister.

(iv) He is the chief spokesman of the state government.

(v) He is the crisis manager-in-chief at the political level during emergencies.

(vi) As a leader of the state, he meets various sections of the people and receives memoranda from them regarding their problems, and so on.

(vii) He is the leader of the party in power.

(viii) He is the political head of the services.

Thus, the Chief Minister plays a very significant and highly crucial role in the state administration. However, the discretionary powers enjoyed by the Governor have reduced to some extent the power, authority, influence, prestige and role of the Chief Minister in the state administration.