Position and Powers of the Prime Minister of India

The Constitution provides for the office of the Prime Minister and the occupant of that office is the keystone of the Constitution. He heads the Council of Ministers and through him the Ministers are technically appointed by the President who simply endorses the formers choice.

The Council of Ministers as a body is responsible to the Lok Sabha, but individual ministers are liable to dismissal by the President, which, again, under the Cabinet System of Government means the right to Prime Minister. It is only when members of the Cabinet in the matter of their appointment as well as in the matter of their dismissal are placed under the Prime Minister that it would be possible to realize our ideal of collective responsibility.

The choice of the Prime Minister is automatic and the chief executive head of the State must summon the leader of the majority party and command him to form the Ministry. The Constitution of India is silent as to how the President shall choose his Prime Minister. It does not specify whether he must necessarily belong to the Lok Sabha or may be member of either House of Parliament. But collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers with the Prime Ministers at its head implies that the Prime Minister must be an elected member of the Lok Sabha and one who belongs to the majority party.

The Prime Minister makes the government and unmakes it. He has the undoubted right to select his own team, allocate the departments to them, reshuffle his pack when and in the manner it pleases him, and dismiss his colleagues.

The general election is really the election of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is thus, the virtual leader of his party and he guides public opinion in the country.

The Prime Minister presides over the meetings of the Cabinet and makes his opinion prevail if party solidarity is to be maintained. He also controls the agenda and it is for him to accept or rejected proposal for Cabinet discussions. He coordinates the policies of his ministers. He is supposed to exercise a general supervision over all departments and he has a right to be consulted on all matters.

The Prime Minister is the leader of the Lok Sabha and, such all principal announcement of policy and business are made by him. All questions on non-departmental affairs and upon critical issues are addressed to him. He initiates in debates of general importance. He also possesses an immediate authority to correct what he may consider the errors of omission and commission of his colleagues.

The Prime Minister is the only channel of communication with the President on all matters of Public concern. He informs the President of all Cabinet Decisions. The Patronage exercised by the Prime Minister is enormous. All major appointments are really made by him.

It is too early to say with definiteness what the position of the Prime Minister is with relation to other ministers. His authority is, indeed, great if he is willing to assert the position which he occupies. But the extent to which he will assert depends in part on his personality, in part on his own prestige and in part on his party support. The mighty power behind a successful Prime Minister is his dynamic personality. A Prime Minister should be an institution and he should rule supreme over his party and government. More than this the strength of a successful Prime Minister is his popularity. A successful Prime Minister should be a world figure influencing the course of international events.

Thus Prime Minister is key man in the Cabinet. But this predominance should not be taken to mean that he is an autocrat. He is a leader not a boss. Normally Ministers are important party leaders and the Prime Minister runs a great risk in losing the goodwill. For instance, we could not imagine a Prime Minister playing the boss over the most popular man of his cabinet.


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