February 1, 2024
• The role of Deputy Chief Minister (Deputy CM) has become a significant aspect of Indian political landscapes, marked by its emergence in various states and its influential role in coalition governments. This position, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, has evolved over time, often as a political compromise to navigate complex political scenarios.
Political Compromise and Coalition Governments
• The appointment of a Deputy CM typically follows the formation of a coalition government or when no single leader commands unequivocal authority within the ruling party. This practice is particularly evident in states where loyalty across key interest groups is diverse.
• In recent years, the prominence of Deputy CMs has grown, with four out of the five states that went to polls in November having individuals in this role. Major states, except Tamil Nadu and Kerala, consistently feature the Deputy CM position.
• Article 163(1) of the Constitution establishes a Council of Ministers to aid and advise the Governor, with the Chief Minister at the helm. Surprisingly, neither Article 163 nor Article 164 explicitly mentions the position of Deputy Chief Minister. Nevertheless, the Deputy CM is considered equivalent in rank to a Cabinet Minister, enjoying similar pay and perks.
Deputy CMs Across States
• Currently, there are 26 Deputy CMs across 14 states, with Andhra Pradesh leading with five Deputies. The holders of this position come from diverse backgrounds, reflecting the political landscape’s complexity. Some Deputy CMs serve as part of coalition governments, showcasing the adaptability of this role.
• The origin of the Deputy CM position can be traced back to the post-1967 era when the Congress’s dominance waned. Anugrah Narayan Sinha in Bihar stands as one of the earliest Deputy CMs, representing the Congress in the state.
• Bihar: Noteworthy Deputy CMs include Karpoori Thakur, Jagdeo Prasad, and Ram Jaipal Singh Yadav.
• Uttar Pradesh: The tradition continued with leaders like Ram Prakash Gupta and Kamalapati Tripathi.
• Madhya Pradesh: Virendra Kumar Saklecha marked the initiation of Deputy CMs in the state.
• Haryana: Chaudhary Chand Ram, a Jat leader, held the position in Rao Birender Singh’s government.
Deputy Prime Ministers in Indian Politics
• Apart from Deputy CMs, India has witnessed Deputy Prime Ministers, a position historically held by prominent leaders. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the first Deputy PM, followed by Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Chaudhary Devi Lal, and Lal Krishna Advani.
• Devi Lal’s appointment faced legal challenges, emphasizing that the title of Deputy Prime Minister doesn’t confer powers equivalent to the Prime Minister.
• The evolution of the Deputy Chief Minister position mirrors the dynamic nature of Indian politics. From its humble beginnings in Bihar to becoming a widespread phenomenon, the Deputy CM role has adapted to the changing political landscape, playing a crucial part in governance and political stability.
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