The Prime Minister of India
It is mentioned in the Constitution that – the executive powers of the President are to be exercised by the Council of Ministers. “There shall be a Council of ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions”. Here the word “shall” means that the President cannot function without the Council of Ministers. This implies that, the President is the constitutional head of State, but the real head of the government is the PM.
The Prime Minister has a special status both in the Government and in the Parliament. This makes him/her the most powerful functionary. His/her position and powers depend upon his/her personality.
Appointment of the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, but he does not have his discretion in that appointment.
- Normally the President has to invite leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha to form the government.
- In case no single party gets a clear majority, the President invites the individual commanding the support of two or more parties which make up majority in the Lok Sabha.
- The Prime Minister is usually a leader of the majority party in Lok Sabha. However, there have been cases in past where a member of Rajya Sabha was appointed as the Prime Minister. For example, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was first appointed as Prime Minster in 1966, and Mr. I. K. Gujral in 1997 or when Rajya Sabha member Dr. Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister in 2004. In 1996 H.D. Deve Gowda was not a member of any House yet he was appointed PM, he later entered the Rajya Sabha.
- The Prime Minister decides portfolios of the Ministers, and can alter these at his will. The Prime Minister presides over the meetings of the Cabinet. The Prime Minister has the authority to reshuffle the portfolios of the Ministers or even ask for their resignation.
- In case of resignation or death of the Prime Minister the entire Council of Ministers also goes out of office. This is because the Council of Ministers is created by the Prime Minister, who also heads it. The entire Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha.
Term of the Prime Minister
- Once appointed, the Prime Minister holds office so long as he/she enjoys the support of the majority of members of Lok Sabha. He cannot be removed by the President. If he loses the majority support in the Lok Sabha, he should resign or the President must dismiss him.
Powers and Functions of the Prime Minister
With respect to Council of Ministers
As head of the Union council of ministers PM enjoys the following powers :
- The Prime Minister recommends persons who can be appointed as ministers by the president. The President can appoint only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the Prime Minister.
- The Prime Minister allocates and reshuffles various portfolios among the ministers.
- The Prime Minister can ask a minister to resign or advise the President to dismiss him in case of difference of opinion.
- It is the PM who presides over the meeting of the council of ministers and influences its decisions.
- The Prime Minister guides, directs, controls, and coordinates the activities of all the ministers.
- He can bring about the collapse of the council of ministers by resigning from office.
With respect to the President
Following are the powers of the Prime Minister in relation to the President:
- Prime Minister is the principal channel of communication between the President and the council of ministers. It is the duty of the prime minister :
- To communicate to the President all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation;
- To furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may call for; and
- If the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.
- He advises the president with regard to the appointment of important officials like Attorney General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the chairman and members of the UPSC, election commissioners, chairman and members of the finance commission and so on.
With respect to Parliament
The Prime Minister is the leader of the Lower House. In this capacity, he enjoys the following powers:
- He advises the President with regard to summoning and proroguing of the sessions of the Parliament.
- He can recommend dissolution of the Lok Sabha to President at any time.
- He announces government policies on the floor of the House.
Other Powers & Functions of Prime Minister
In addition to the above-mentioned three major roles, the Prime Minister has various other roles. They are:
- PM is the chairman of t NITI Aayog, Governing council of NITI Aayog, National Integration Council, Inter-State Council and National Water Resources Council.
- He plays a significant role in shaping the foreign policy of the country.
- He is the chief spokesman of the Union government.
- He is the crisis manager-in-chief at the political level during emergencies.
- As a leader of the nation, he meets various sections of people in different states and receives memoranda from them regarding their problems, and so on.
- He is the leader of the party in power.
- He is political head of the services.
Emoluments of the Prime Minister
- The salary and allowances of the Prime Minister are determined by the Parliament. He receives salary and allowances that are payable to a Member of Parliament.
- He receives sumptuary allowance, free accommodation travel allowance, medical facilities in addition to his salary.
- Hence it can be concluded that, the Prime Minister is not only a leader of the Parliament but also the leader of the nation. The Prime Minister has to secure the willing cooperation and coordination of all important members of the Parliament as well as State Legislature. But in a minority government, the Prime Minister has to depend on outside support that might act as hindrance in his effective functioning. This happened in last decade of UPA administration government, where political compulsions stalled the reforms and effectively slowed down the growth of the economy.
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