Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief leader Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, who won the assembly constituency of Bhabanipur in the recent West Bengal election, resigned his post on Friday as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee contests the seat to enter the Assembly.
Banerjee won the seat in a by-election in 2011 and retained it in 2016. In the 2021 polls, she challenged Nandigram, where she lost to her lieutenant-turned-rival, Suvendu Adhikari, in an electoral battle at rocking.
“I want Mamata Banerjee to come back to her own riding. That’s why I quit… it’s my decision. The whole party wants her to challenge, ”said Chattopadhyay, giving credence to the speculations circulating.
Banerjee will need to be elected as a lawmaker within the next six months to retain the top post in the state.
“Article 164 (4) of our Constitution stipulates that a minister who, for a period of six consecutive months, is not a member of the state legislature, ceases to be a minister at the expiration of this period… according to the Constitution, she (Banerjee) must be elected within these six months to continue (as CM), ”said political expert Kapil Thakur. “If she is not elected after six months, she will lose her post.”
The other option for Banerjee will be to enter the assembly through the Vidhan Parishad, or an upper house. Admittedly, Bengal does not currently have a bicameral legislature, which was abolished in 1969. But the TMC government is considering reviving it.
Since Chattopadhyay is also an elected Member of Parliament and Minister, he will have the same options to retain his membership in the House. Chattopadhyay, known to be an influential leader of the TMC, was personally chosen for the seat of Bhabanipur by the CM. Currently, he is the minister in charge of the department of electricity and unconventional energy sources.
President Biman Banerjee said he received Chattopadhyay’s resignation. “… There was no pressure on him,” he added.
The seat of Bhabanipur is now vacant and the Election Commission will decide how and when to hold elections in these constituencies. At present, there are six vacant seats in Bengal. Recently, the seats in the Dinhata and Santipur assemblies fell vacant after the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nisith Pramanik and Jagannath Sarkar, resigned their positions as MPs, while retaining their parliamentary membership.
In addition, the elections could not take place at the Samserganj and Jangipur seats in Murshidabad due to the deaths of candidates before the national elections. Kharda’s seat also became vacant in the North 24-Parganas district following the death of TMC candidate Kajal Sinha ahead of the results.
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