The federal structure of the Indian system of governance is three-tiered, with the Union or Central Government, constituting the first tier, holding the highest executive position. The Union Government delegates some of its powers to the State Government which constitutes the second tier in the federal structure. The States are vested with exclusive executive powers under the governance of the ruling political party. The third and the final tier comprises the Panchayats and Municipalities which are involved in local level governance.
Each state of India must have a Legislative Assembly or Vidhan Sabha operated by the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). MLAs are the direct representatives of the people, elected by the voters of an electoral district (constituency). Each state has between seven to nine MLA for every Member of Parliament (MP) that it has in the Lok Sabha and thus the number cannot exceed 500 and cannot be fewer than 60. The MLAs are equivalent to the Members of the Parliament in the Lok Sabha and a part of the highest law making body of a state.
Eligibility Criteria to become an MLA
MLAs are vested with legislative (law-making), financial (passing of bills, grants and tax proposals), executive (control of ruling government), and electoral (appointing the President, members of Rajya Sabha, Speaker of Legislative Assembly) powers. The following are the required qualifications for becoming an MLA:
- The candidate must be a citizen of India.
- The age must be 25 years and above.
- As per the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the candidate must be an elector for any constituency in the State he is representing from.
- The candidate must not hold an office of interest under the Government of India.
- The candidate must be of sound mind
- Representation of the People Act, 1951, states that any MLA found guilty and convicted by court cannot remain in the post.
Election Process of an MLA
The MLAs are directly elected by the voters of a constituency. The following is the procedure of electing an MLA:
- The elections are held after the expiry of the current assembly’s tenure, generally after a period of every five years.
- Every state is divided into different constituencies or specific areas on the basis of population.
- Candidates belonging to these constituencies are voted for by citizens over 18 years of age.
- Any number of candidates can stand for elections from a constituency as long as each one of them fulfils the eligibility criteria.
- The candidates can either be affiliated to a specific political party or contest the elections as independent candidates.
- The candidates are required to rally for themselves by voicing their plans and concerns of their constituency.
- The members are directly elected through an electorate who votes according to universal adult franchise.
- The voting is done by a secret ballot to ensure that only the voter knows for whom he/she has voted.
- The Governor of a State has the executive power of nominating a member of the Anglo-Indian community, in case the said person lacks adequate representation in the assembly.
The MLAs once elected, represent their constituencies in the Legislative Assembly.