(Last Updated on : 03/03/2010)
The Chief Minister is the political head of the State. In every State of the Union of India there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head. In fact he is the highest dignitary of any state of India. Constitution of India
says that that there shall be a council of ministers in each state headed by a Chief Minister appointed by a Governor.
Appointment of the Chief Minister
The appointment of the Chief Minister is a discretionary power of the Governor. But in reality he has no other choice but to appoint the leader of the party or the leader of the Coalition of parties that enjoys an absolute majority in the Legislative Assembly as the Chief Minister. In case a coalition of parties secures an absolute majority in the elections of the Legislative Assembly, the Governor appoints the leader of the coalition as the Chief Minister. The Governor appoints other ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister and distributes the various portfolios among them. The Chief Minister is usually a member of the Legislative Assembly, though there is no constitutional bar to his being a member of the Legislative Council.
The Chief Minister of any state has been divested with several functions. Besides carrying on the many functions; the Chief Minister also has many roles to play in order to maintain proper governance of the state. His roles and functions can be classified into a number of categories:
The Chief Minister is the leader of the Council of Ministers of the State, and, therefore, he is the Chief adviser to the Governor. He is the link between the Governor and the Council of Ministers; he communicates the decisions of the Council of Ministers to the Governor. If the Governor has any advice or suggestion to offer to the Council of Ministers, the Chief Minister brings that to the notice of the ministers and takes decisions accordingly. The Chief Minister is also the leader of the State Legislature and the leader of the Party which is in power.
Regarding the functions of the Chief Minister it can also be said that the chief minister is the chief spokesman of the government and its policies. He communicates the government policies with the help of the press and other media exposure. The Chief Minister keeps the people aware of the affairs of the State.
The Chief Minister has other functions to perform. He keeps a close watch on the financial matters of the State including the preparation of budget, decides basic priorities, takes keen interest in planning and development works, attends the meetings of the National Development Council, Zonal Council etc.
Position of the Chief Minister
The Chief Minister is the pivot of the State Executive in the real sense and its chief architect. He is a link between the State government and the Union government. It is the Chief Minister who maintains the link between the State Governments and the Union Governments. He maintains the relation between the State Legislature, the Council of Ministers and the Governor.
Constitutional Limitations of the Chief Minister
There are certain constitutional limitations. The Chief Minister has to function under the threat of the following constitutional limitations:
(a)The discretionary powers of the Governor: Under Article 164(i), the Ministers shall
hold office during the pleasure of the Governor. The Governor, under Article 163, can exercise his power in his discretion without seeking the advice of the Council of Ministers.
(b) Failure of the Constitutional Machinery: On the basis of the report submitted by the
Governor or on the basis of the report received from other sources, the President can dissolve the Council of Ministers of a State under Article 356 on the ground of the failure of the constitutional machinery in the State.
(c)Absolute Majority in the Legislative Assembly: The enjoyment of the confidence of the Legislative Assembly is a condition for the proper discharge of functions as Chief Minister. Unless the Chief Minister is always backed by a stable majority in the Assembly, he cannot go ahead taking the confidence of the Legislative Assembly/or granted.
(d)Distribution of limited Power to States: The Constitution of India assigns limited power to the States as specified in the State List in the Seventh Schedule. This limited power assigned to the State imposes restriction in becoming a real head by the Chief Minister.