Janta Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar took oath to become the Bihar Chief Minister for the eighth time last week. This time around, he will be taking a floor test of August 24.

It is essentially a formality for Kumar  given the support he enjoys in the newly-formed Mahagathbandhan. The new ‘Grand Alliance’ led by the JD (U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) currently has the numbers to surive the floor test. Nitish Kumar’s sudden rise to the Chief Minister’s office is likely to boost a floundering Opposition. 

What is a floor test?

A floor test is a show of strength, in that the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister must prove that they have a majority on the Parliament floor, or in the state Legislative Assembly. 

The concept of the floor test is a part of the Indian Constitution and is an attempt to provide transparency in the processes of Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies.

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A floor test is often considered a formality, especially when a single party wins a majority of the seats in Parliament or in a state’s Legislative Assembly. When the party wins said majority, its leader is appointed as the Prime Minister or Chief Minister. The appointment of the Chief Minister is done by the Governor of the state, according to the Constitution of India. 

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However, in case the majority is in question, a floor test must be conducted. The leader of the party claiming to have superior numbers must move a vote of confidence and prove their own majority via those who are present and voting.   The voting for a floor test is conducted in three ways:

A voice vote where legislators respond orally

A division vote where voting during the floor test is done using a ballot box or an electronic gadget 

A ballot vote where voting is conducted in a secretive manner, much like how state and parliamentary elections are conducted. 

Should the incumbent party fail to prove it has a majority, the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister must resign.