Creation of Legislative Council in Bengal: How Mamata Banerjee can retain her post without contesting
Kolkata, July 07: In a significant move, the West Bengal Assembly passed a resolution to set up Legislative Council with a two-thirds majority. The resolution was passed with 196 of the 265 members present in the house backing the council's creation and 69 opposing it.
The move holds significance, as chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who faced a crushing defeat against her protege-turned-nemesis Suvendhu Adhikarithe in the recently-concluded West Bengal Assembly election from the Nandigram Assembly seat, needs to become a lawmaker within 6 months.
Article 164 (4) of the Indian Constitution says 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.
In March this year, Trinamool Congress MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay resigned from Bhabanipur assembly seat, paving the way for Mamata's re-election from her bastion.
However, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Election Commission may decide not to hold a by-election, which may turn as a major hurdle for Mamata to remain in post.
In such situation, the creation of council comes to the rescue as Mamata Banerjee can be nominated to it if the by-polls are delayed.
Similar situation prevailed in Uttarakhand recently, that led to resignation of chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat.
The Opposition BJP came down heavily on Bengal government's move and said that the TMC wants to pursue "backdoor politics" to help party leaders get elected as lawmakers despite having lost the assembly polls. But it won't see the light of the day as "all steps will be taken to ensure it doesn't get through in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha where the saffron party has the majority".
Creation of Legislative Council in Bengal
The TMC government had earlier tabled the proposal in the state Assembly for setting up Vidhan Parishad after coming to power in 2011. However, the proposal was accepted, and a committee was also set up in this regard.
The committee had given its report, and it was decided that a resolution would be taken for the creation of the legislative council. But, due to unknown reasons, the resolution was never taken up. West Bengal Legislative Council was set up in 1952 and abolished in 1969 during the time of the United Front government.
Now, the resolution would need a nod from the Governor, and after that, a Bill has to be passed in the parliament. Following which it has to be sent for President's assent so that a Legislative Council can be created.
At present, six states have a Legislative Council in India and they are- Maharashtra, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar.