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What happens when a Chief Minister dies in office?

A tussle over government formation erupted in the coastal state immediately after the demise of the 63-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.

SNS | New Delhi |

The mortal remains of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar are yet to be consigned to flames and yet a tussle over government formation erupted in the coastal state immediately after the demise of the 63-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.

The Congress on Sunday evening wrote to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha staking claim to form government in the state on the ground that it is the single-largest party in the now truncated 36-member assembly.

“Congress being the single largest party, it is submitted that the leader of the Congress party is entitled to be invited to form the next government. We, therefore, hereby once again stake our claim to form the government and request Your Excellency to extend the invitation to our leader to form the next government,” the letter written by Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Chandrakant Kavlekar stated.

He also pointed out that the coalition allies of the BJP had in 2017 agreed on a written condition that Parrikar leads the coalition government as Chief Minister.

On the other hand, the BJP started talks with the coalition partners. Reports say that the BJP will announce the name of Parrikar’s successor at 2 pm.

Parrikar was the 18th CM to die in office.

Read More: 18 Indian chief ministers who died while in office

While the political turmoil in Goa will continue for a while, one has to take a quick look at what happens if Chief Minister dies in office.

Does the death of a sitting CM automatically brings the state under Governor’s Rule?

The answer is no. The death of a sitting CM will have no impact on a government if the party in power has a clear majority either on its own or through coalition.

In Goa’s case, however, the ruling party has only 12 MLAs. It is supported by three MLAs each of Goa Forward Party and MGP, one Independent and the only NCP legislator. The Congress has 14 MLAs in the assembly.

The 40-member Goa assembly, however, has an effective strength of 36 because of the deaths of Parrikar and BJP MLA Francis D’Souza and the resignations of Congress leaders Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte. Thus the coalition strength comes to 20 – one more than the current majority mark of 19 in the 36-member assembly.

The government in power has the numbers and will only have to present a face for the CM’s post to continue provided the coalition partners agree to go the distance.

Who can be picked as replacement in the event of a sitting CM’s death?

The ruling party can pick anyone to become the CM of the state. That person need not necessarily be a sitting legislator, but in that case the selected person will have to contest elections to the legislative assembly within 6 months from the date of him taking oath of office.

A similar development was seen in Tamil Nadu following the death of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The AIADMK supremo passed away on 5 January 2016. A day later, O Panneerselvam, her loyalist, took oath as the CM of Tamil Nadu.

What Indian Constitution says on CM appointment

Article 164 of the Constitution lays down the provisions on the appointment of the CM and council of ministers as well as their salaries.

(1) The chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor: Provided that in the State of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, there shall be a Minister in charge of tribal welfare who may in addition be in charge of the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and backward classes or any other work

(2) The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State

(3) Before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer so him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule

(4) 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

(5) The salaries and allowances of Ministers shall be such as the Legislature of the State may from time to time by law determine and, until the Legislature of the State so determines, shall be as specified in the Second Schedule The Advocate General for the State