Essays on the powers, functions and positions of the Chief Ministers of a state

The Chief Minister occupies a pivotal position in a state. He symbolises ruling power structure and wields more authority than anybody else in the state.

He shapes the style of his Government and is responsible for its performance. He occupies a position in the state comparable to that of the Prime Minister at the centre. He is appointed by the Governor but is responsible with his ministry to the popularly elected legislature Assembly.

The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor the executive head of the state, who invites the leader of the majority party in the legislative Assembly to form the Government. The constitution says nothing about the qualification of the Chief Minister.

Under the constitution all that is needed is that such a person is citizen of India and possesses such qualifications, as are, required for becoming a member of the Legislative Assembly. There are no educational or other qualifications about his appointment.

Such a person could be a member of either House of the legislature of even an outsider. He must, however, become a member of the legislature within six months failing which he is liable to forfeit his office. This provision has been on occasion taken advantage of by the majority legislative party, in the selection of its leader.

Powers and functions of the Chief Minister:

The Chief Minister of a state, being the real executive head of the state, enjoys vast powers and functions. They are: (1) He is the working head of the state Government and as such, he advises the Governor in matters relating to the selection of his ministers, change in their portfolios and their removal from his Government.

(2) He presides over the meetings of his council of ministers and see to it that the principle of collective responsibility is maintained. He may thus advise a minister to tender his resignation, or he may advise the Governor to dismiss a minister in case he differs from the policy of the cabinet.

(3) He communicates to the Governor all decisions of his council of ministers relating to the administration of the state of affairs and proposals of legislation.

(4) He furnishes to the Governor such information relating to the administration of the state of affairs and proposals of legislation as he may call for.

(5) He places a matter for the consideration of the council of minister where the Governor requires him to have the decision of the Government.

(6) He acts as the sole channel of communication between his ministers and the Governor.

(7) Likewise, the Chief Minister, is the sole channel of communication between his ministers and the legislature. All bills, resolutions etc. that are moved in the legislature must have his prior approval.

When there is much criticism of his Government in the legislature he himself holds the floor to face the on sought of the opposition and thereby save his Government from being backed or defeated.

(8) He is the leader of the majority party and as such, it is his duty to see that discipline is maintained. For this he appoints the whips and sees to it hat the orders of the whips are invariably carried out.

(9) He may tender his resignation any time and then advises the Governor to summon such and such person for the installation of another ministry or to dissolve the House and thereby place the state under President Rule.

(10) Though in theory all appointments are made by the Governor, Yet in practice power of patronage vests with the Chief Minister. He is consulted about the appointment of judges of the state High Court.

No posting and transfer can take place in the state without his approval. He is consulted in the appointment of State Advocate General and the members of State Public Service Commission.

Position of a Chief Minister:

The Chief Minister is vested with many powers, but his real position depends on his personality, political experience, administrative capability, position in the party organization at the state level, backing and equation with the central leadership and party High Command, and when he enjoys support of a single majority party or of coalition Government.

The Chief Minister, in short, is the leader of the Cabinet, the leader of his party, the leader of the legislature and the leader of the people of his state. He enjoys an undisputed supremacy.

Though the statutory functions of the Chief Minister are very meagre, yet the powers wielded by him are too enormous and his control and influence in the governance of the state so great that the constitutional enumeration of his functions serve only to common flage his actual status.

He can be described as the key stone of the cabinet arch, a moon among the lesser star and Sun around which the ministers revolve like planets.

But this analysis of the position of the Chief Minister does not conform to the actual position accepted by the Chief Minister today in the states where coalition Government existed and single party could not capture majority. In the states, with coalition Government, the chief Ministers had to face a critical situation, when the party men threatened to defect.

The ministers did not show sufficient respect to the Chief Minister. The council of Ministers in the coalition states proved a house divided against itself. The unity in the council is enforced by the threat of dissolution of the Assembly and the possibility of a fresh election.

This type of enforced unity neither helps to uphold the dignity and authority of the Chief Minister nor sustains collective responsibility. An overall analysis of his powers and positions reveals that in the states the Chief Ministers have not been able to enjoy that esteem and power which the Prime Minister enjoys.