Not the first CM to become PM
Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi is not the first Chief Minister to move to the seat of power at the Centre.
The distinction goes to former Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, who, much to the surprise of everyone, got elevated to the post of Prime Minister in 1996.
After the Congress led by P.V. Narasimha Rao fared poorly in the 1996 general election, the party chose to lend outside support to the United Front (UF) government, an amalgam of non-Congress and non-BJP parties.
Several names, including the then West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, were considered for the top post but ultimately the Front settled for Mr. Gowda as he was the least unacceptable choice.
Mr. Gowda stepped down as Chief Minister and resigned as member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly after he was named PM. The Constitution allows a person, who enjoys the support of the majority of Lok Sabha MPs, to be sworn in as Prime Minister without being a member of either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha.
However, the person has to get elected to either House of Parliament within a span of six months. Mr. Gowda chose to become a member of the Rajya Sabha.
In the case of Mr. Modi, since he is already elected as a member of the Lok Sabha from Vadodara and Varanasi, all he needs to do is step down as Chief Minister and give up his membership in the Gujarat Assembly as well as one of the two Lok Sabha seats he has won.
Indications are that the Gujarat BJP Legislature Party would elect a new leader in place of Mr. Modi on May 21, paving the way for his resignation as Chief Minister as well as an MLA.
Under the law, a person cannot be a member of the Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha as well as the Legislative Assembly. The person has to give up his membership of one of the two within 14 days of the notification of the election result by the Election Commission.
The same rule applies to a person who is elected from more than one Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly seat.
Rao’s unique case
The case of the late Narasimha Rao is unique. He had taken virtual retirement from politics and did not contest the 1991 Lok Sabha election. But the unfortunate assassination of Congress prime ministerial candidate Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu, where he was campaigning, altered the situation overnight.
After the Congress won the election, the party chose Sonia Gandhi to lead the government but she turned down the proposal. Then Mr. Rao emerged as the least unacceptable choice within the Congress, thanks to the backing of Ms. Gandhi, for the job of Prime Minister.
Subsequently, he contested a by-election from the Nandyal Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh and won with a record margin of over five lakh votes as the Telugu Desam Party backed his candidature in the name of “Telugu pride”.