Narendra Modi took an oath of the office as 15th Prime Minister of this country along with 45 Ministers, including key leaders like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Unlike every single government since 1989, Modi does not have any ‘coalition compulsions’ like his predecessors. The Bharatiya Janata Party on its own has 10 members more than the required 272 in the Lok Sabha for a simple majority. It is appropriate to mention that coalition politics has played immensely in deciding the strength of council to appease the member parties and have caused immensely on the decision making and exchequer. Of course, BJP have very small presence in Rajya Sabha to get the important legislations to pass through where it will require not only the support of allies but of the opposition. It is expected that this time coalition politics will have to say.
Narender Modi, who has become PM has talked about the principle of “MINIMUM GOVERNMENT AND MAXIMUM GOVERNANCE”. Let’s see, how he will fulfill these ideal ideas. India is neither America which is homogenous in its people nor Gujarat where people generally are more pro- business and less participative in debates concerning human rights and democratic representation. So, if Modi keeps a short cabinet and then plum post will be with either himself or with BJP’s bigwigs then it would be definitely make people neglect the government formation. This will give wrong signals, especially to those who were not traditionally BJP voters like Dalits and OBCs. However, they have voted this time for an OBC PM to get slice of power and development. From day one, the new government should lay a planned strategy to deliver goods. Development activities should go on full swing. Modi should not give any chance to his critics. Solar power, water harvesting, creating infrastructure and solving farmer’s problems, to double food production, strengthening law & order must be his foremost priority. I hope he has not included those who want to build their personal assets.
Everyone knows, NaMo is not averse to identify and will weed out such characters, despite political compulsions. While it is a good idea to merge the ministries and have compatible group of ministers directing them, there should be opportunities for all MPs to play roles in the areas that are important to their constituents and to gain experience as subject matter experts, managers, and leaders. By being knowledgeable about the policies, activities, and events, members will not be surprised about events and hopefully exhibit responsible behaviour. Besides getting usual tasks like policies, plans, and legislation, ministers should get their departments to develop scenarios and actions if unexpected events occur. This is done through simulations and wargames.
Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete figured in a compact Narendra Modi Cabinet which has involved a radical restructuring of various ministries with one cabinet minister heading a cluster of departments in complementary sectors. Smriti Irani, as Human Resource Development minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad as Law Minister and also have charge of Telecom. Nitin Gadkari has land a mega Transport Ministry that could even include the Railways and Civil Aviation portfolios. Modi’s Cabinet took Shape with Sushma with External Affairs, Jaitley as Finance Minister, Prakash Javadekar as Information and Broadcasting Minister. He could also head the environment ministry. Nirmala Sitharaman is a new Commerce Minister with independent charge. Piyush Goel has been handed Power & Coal Ministry with independent charge. In a clear indication that Modi is opting for major changes in the structure of the government, a statement issued by his secretariat on Sunday said that “focus is on convergence in the activities of various ministries where one cabinet minister will be heading a cluster of ministries which are working in complementary sectors. Modi is eventually aiming at “smart governance” where the top layers of government will be downsized and there would be expansion at the grassroots level. BJP’s allies, who are part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), account for only 56 members in the Lok Sabha. So, to that extent Modi’s dependence on allies is reduced. However, it does not have even 50 members in the Rajya Sabha with an effective strength of 245. Article 72 of the Constitution prescribes that the total number of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15 per cent of the number of members of the House of the People. Prior to January 1, 2004 (effective date of 91st Amendment of the Constitution) the Prime Minister had discretion to appoint any number in his council of ministers. But the Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment) Act in 2003 made a drastic change in curbing such power of the Prime Minister. This Amendment added clause (1A) in this Article which made a specific provision that, the total number of Ministers, including Prime Minister, in no case can exceed 15 per cent of the total number of Lok Sabha members. The Prime Minister can induct into his ministry a person who is not a member of either House of Parliament. However, a minister who for a period of six consecutive months is not a member of either House of Parliament shall at the expiration of that period cease to be one. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee formed his government for the first time in March 1998, he had 21 Cabinet and 21 Ministers of State some with independent charge. At the beginning of his second stint in October 1999, there were 22 Cabinet and equal numbers of Ministers of State. Subsequently, it was expanded to suit political expediencies. The UPA-I and UPA-II led by Manmohan Singh began with over 50 ministers and at some stage the maximum strength was 78.
So, let’s accept this new Modi government whole heartedly and respect public mandate and wait for a real change to happen.