Short And Intense: Indian Chief Ministers Who Could Not Last Even A Week In Office
Becoming a CM is easy. But holding on to the chair is another matter. Just like former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and a bunch of others learnt the hard way
It was British Prime Minister Harold Wilson who famously said: “A week is a long time in politics.” That was way back in the ’60s. Since then, politicians have proved time and again that a week is 168 hours. And each of them counts.
There have been times of political turmoil in India when chief ministers have somehow managed to hang on to their office for an improbably short span, until they could no longer do so. The latest among them is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis who resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra, three days after he took the oath of office—and twice in 18 days.
Fadnavis was given a day’s time by the Supreme Court, on November 26, to prove his majority on the floor of the House after the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress approached the apex court soon after he took oath on Saturday, November 23.
Here is the list of chief ministers, from different parties, with the shortest terms in India. Each of them racing with the other—in the reverse—to enter history books.
Two days: B. S. Yeddyurappa, Karnataka, May 2018
In 2018 Assembly elections, the BJP emerged as the single-largest party in the Karnataka Assembly with 104 MLAs. It fell short of a simple majority mark of 111 by seven MLAs in the 221-member Assembly. On the other hand, the Congress and its post-poll alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) meant that it had 117 MLAs, but the Governor of the state, Vajubhai Vala, invited the BJP under the leadership of B.S. Yeddyurappa to form the government. The Congress party and its partner appealed to the Supreme Court, which then ordered a floor test. Realizing that he did not have the numbers on the day of the test, Yeddyurappa resigned.
Two days: Jagadamibika Pal, Uttar Pradesh, 1988
Called the "one day wonder”, Jagadambika Pal was the Uttar Pradesh CM for two days, From February 21 to February 23, 1988. Pal was sworn in as the CM late on the night of February 21, and the Allahabad High Court reversed this decision the next morning. But he held on for another day. He was the made the chief minister under controversial circumstances late at night thanks to the then Governor of the state Romesh Bhandari. The governor sacked BJP’s Kalyan Singh as CM and appointed Pal as his successor. As it has happened before and after that, Kalyan Singh approached the Supreme Court, which, in turn, asked for a quick floor test, which Kalyan Singh won. Singh was supported by a large number of defectors from other parties and he made almost every defector a minister.
Five Days: Satish Prasad Singh, Bihar, 1968
It was more than 50 years ago that Satish Prasad Singh of the Soshit Samaj Dal occupied the office of the chief minister of Bihar for five days from January 28 to February 1, 1968. To his credit, Singh did not resort to horse-trading or any backroom machinations to cling on to the office beyond five days. Singh recommended the name of B.P. Mandal, a backward-caste leader, to take over the reigns and resigned quietly. Singh was in the news again in 2018 (after quitting the BJP earlier) as he had retained the bungalow in Patna that was given to him when he had become the chief minister, even after five decades.
Five Days: Om Prakash Chautala, Haryana, 1990
Om Prakash Chautala became the CM for the second time in 1990 after the Assembly elections. But his stint was short-lived. It lasted for only five days—from July 12, 1990 to July 17. This period is also remembered as notoriously violence-ridden in our electoral history, when the by-poll for the Meham Assembly seat was conducted. Chautala has another dubious record to his name. He was the CM of the state for only 14 days in 1991.
Seven Days: Nitish Kumar, Bihar, 2000
Nitish Kumar was a Union minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee Cabinet in 2000. After the assembly polls in of Bihar in February that year he staked claim to the CM’s chair as the leader of Samata Party. He claimed the support of 151 MLAs in the 324-member House. He fell short by eight MLAs than Lalu Prasad Yadav, but with Governor Vinod Chandra Pande clearly favourable towards the Samata Party, Kumar was sworn-in as the chief minister on March 3, 2000. He was given a week to prove his majority. But after realizing that he could not get support of any other party, big or small, he resigned on March 10 without facing the test on the floor.