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Indian Polity #4


COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

Conditions of service

  • It is composed of all Union Ministers – the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers
  • The council is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister
  • A Minister must be a member of either House of Parliament, or be elected within 6 months of assuming office
Collective Responsibility

  • The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha
  • A vote of no confidence even against a single Minister means the entire Council must resign
  • Each Minister is also responsible for his department and can be removed from office by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister
Functions of the Council of Ministers

  • Formulates policies of the country on the basis of which administration is carried out
  • Introduces all important Bills in Parliament and oversees their passage
  • Presents the Budget to the Parliament
  • Determines foreign policy
  • Approves international agreements and treaties
  • Render advice to the President regarding proclamation of war or emergency
CATEGORIES OF MINISTERS
  • Cabinet Minister
    • Senior minister in charge of a particular Ministry
    • May hold additional charges of other Ministries (if no other Cabinet Minister is appointed)
    • Cabinet Ministers must belong to either House of Parliament
    • Currently there are 33 Cabinet Ministers
  • Minister of State (Independent Charge)
    • In charge of a particular portfolio
    • Is not under the oversight of a Cabinet Minister
    • Currently there are 7 MoS with independent charge
  • Minister of State
    • A minister with a specific responsibility in a particular Ministry
    • Reports to the concerned Cabinet Minister
    • Currently there are 38 MoS

THE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA

Overview

  • The Prime Minister is the head of government and the head of the Council of Ministers
  • The PM is responsible for the discharge of functions and powers of the President
  • The PM must be a member of either House of Parliament, or be elected within 6 months of taking office
ELECTION TO OFFICE
Appointment

  • The Prime Minister is appointed by the President on the basis of his being the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha
  • If no party gets an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha or a PM resigns or dies, the President can use his own discretion in the choice of a Prime Minister
  • If the person the President so appoints is not a member of the Lok Sabha, he must get himself elected within a period of 6 months
Conditions of service

  • The Prime Minister serves in office for 5 years
  • He can be re-appointed
  • When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, he can continue in office upon the request of the President
  • If the government is defeated in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister and entire cabinet must resign
  • However, if defeated in the Rajya Sabha, resignation is not obligatory
FUNCTIONS OF THE PRIME MINISTER
  1. Legislative functions
    1. He is the leader of the majority in the Lok Sabha
    2. The President convenes and prorogues sessions of Parliament in consultation with the PM
    3. Can recommend dissolution of the Lok Sabha to the President
    4. All members of the Cabinet are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the PM
  2. Administrative functions
    1. Acts as the chief channel of communication between the President and the Council of Ministers
    2. Allocates portfolios among various ministers and shuffles them
    3. Presides over meetings of the Council of Ministers
    4. Supervises the working of other Ministers
  3. Executive functions
    1. Represents the country internationally
    2. Acts as the ex-officio Chairman of the Planning Commission
    3. Has exclusive jurisdiction over the disposal of the PM’s National Relief Fund and the PM’s National Defence Fund
  4. Advisory functions
    1. Assists the President in the appointment of all high officials
    2. Recommends to the President proclamation of emergency
    3. Advices the President on the imposition of President’s Rule
LIST OF PRIME MINISTERS OF INDIA 
No.
Prime Minister
Date
Notes
1
Jawaharlal Nehru
1947 – 1964
First Prime Minister
First to die in office
Longest tenure
2
Guzari Lal Nanda
May 1964 – Jun 1964
First and only “acting” PM
3
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Jun 1964 – Jan 1966
First PM to die abroad during official tour
4
Guzari Lal Nanda
Jan 1966 – Jan 1966

5
Indira Gandhi
Jan 1966 – Mar 1967
First woman PM
First PM to lose an election
6
Moraji Desai
Mar 1977 – Jul 1979
Oldest to become PM (81 years)
First to resign from office
7
Charan Singh
Jul 1979 – Jan 1980
Only PM that did not face Parliament
8
Indira Gandhi
Jan 1980 – Oct 1984
First PM to be assassinated
9
Rajiv Gandhi
Oct 1984 – Dec 1989
Youngest to become PM (40 years)
10
VP Singh
Dec 1989 – Nov 1990
First PM to resign after vote of no confidence
11
Chandra Shekar
Nov 1990 – Jun 1991

12
Narasimha Rao
Jun 1991 – May 1996

13
AB Vajpayee
May 1996 – Jun 1996
Shortest tenure (13 days)
14
Deve Gowda
Jun 1996 – Apr 1997

15
IK Gujral
Apr 1997 – Mar 1998

16
AB Vajpayee
Mar 1998 – May 2004

17
Manmohan Singh
May 2004 – Present

THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
  • It is not a constitutional post
  • Does not carry any specific powers
  • Can chair meetings of the Cabinet in the absence of the PM, and take on the responsibility of the PM in case of the latter’s death
  • India has had 7 Deputy Prime Ministers
  • Sardar Vallabhai Patel was the first Deputy PM. He was also the Home Minister concurrently
  • The current government does not have a Deputy PM

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