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As MPs, Union ministers win Assembly elections, how likely are by-polls?

Resignation from Lok Sabha, replacing Union ministers and possible cabinet reshuffle months ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2024, are all on the table, with BJP MPs stating state Assembly seats

Parliament, New parliament building

Photo: PTI

BS Web Team New Delhi

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded 18 members of Parliament (MP), including three Union ministers in three states, for the state Assembly elections 2023. 12 of the 18 MPs and ministers won in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh, where the BJP is set to form the government.

In Madhya Pradesh, two of the three Union ministers and three of the four MPs fielded won their respective seats. In Rajasthan, four of the seven fielded MPs secured their seats. In Chhattisgarh, both Union Ministers and one of the two MPs fielded by BJP secured victory in the Assembly elections, while all three BJP MPs in Telangana lost. Overall, it appears BJP's gamble in these states paid off, with the party securing a triple win on Sunday.

With the results now declared, the question now remains, what will be the fate of the winning MPs and Union ministers going forward?


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Resigning from the Lok Sabha

Article 101 of the Constitution dictates that an individual cannot simultaneously be a member of both Parliament and a State Legislature. These lawmakers will now have to resign from either the Lok Sabha or the state Assembly. This will need to take place within 14 days of the declaration of the result. According to a report by Hindustan Times, since these leaders specifically contested the state Assembly elections, it is most likely they will resign from the Lok Sabha.

If MPs are elected to both legislatures, their Parliamentary seat becomes vacant unless they resign from the state legislature within the designated 14 days. Consequently, MPs who win an Assembly seat, opt to retain their parliamentary membership, by-polls in the Assembly constituency become necessary shortly after the initial polls.

High chance of by-polls

These MPs and ministers present a unique challenge for the Election Commission (EC) as it could trigger a substantial number of by-polls in poll-bound states within six months of the elections. While instances of MPs contesting assembly polls have occurred before, the current scenario magnifies the potential for subsequent by-polls.

For example, in 2021 BJP MP Nishant Pramanik in West Bengal, who won the Dinahata assembly seat but chose to retain his parliamentary seat, leading to a by-poll six months later. Now, with MPs winning in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, a similar scenario may emerge.

The EC has historically disapproved of candidates contesting from multiple seats. Earlier, the commission had suggested discouraging such practices and making contestants bear the expense of conducting by-polls. However, this suggestion was not accepted by the government or the courts. If a contesting MP secures the assembly seat and decides to shift to the assembly, a by-poll would typically be held for the vacant parliamentary seat.

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According to a report by The Economic Times, with general elections only six months away, the EC is unlikely to schedule any by-polls and may keep the seats vacant until the upcoming LS elections. While LS polls were conducted until November 2018 before the 2019 general elections, the EC, this time has decided against holding by-polls in Pune, Chandrapur, Ghazipur, and Ambala, citing their proximity to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The EC is expected to maintain this stance.

PM Modi's cabinet reshuffle

Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Pralhad Patel, and Renuka Singh secured their seats in the state Assembly elections, while Faggan Singh Kulaste lost in Madhya Pradesh. With three Union ministers now absent from the cabinet, the Modi administration will need to find replacements. This has also raised speculations about a possible cabinet reshuffle months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2024.

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First Published: Dec 04 2023 | 11:45 AM IST

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