President Draupadi Murmu administered oaths to the Central Council of Ministers of the new NDA government on Sunday (June 9). Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the COM is larger in strength compared to the previous term, featuring 30 cabinet ministers, five Ministers of State (Independent Charge) and 36 Ministers of State.

What is the Council of Ministers and who are its members? What are the duties entrusted to them? What is the difference between a Minister of State (MoS) and an MoS with Independent Charge? We explain.

What is the Central Council of Ministers?

The Central Council of Ministers is led by the Prime Minister and plays a vital role in government policy-making. Given the parliamentary system of government in India, it is effectively the real executive authority.

While the President of India is the head of the Executive, they must act on the aid and advice of the COM as mandated by the Indian Constitution. According to Article 75, “There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice…”

Festive offer

Article 75 further states that the President appoints the Prime Minister. Based on the PM’s recommendation, the President also appoints other ministers. The article mandates that the size of this council should not exceed 15% of the strength of the Lok Sabha, or the House of the people.

Article 88 empowers the ministers to speak or otherwise participate in proceedings in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, as well as any joint session of both houses or any Parliamentary committee they may be a part of. However, it does not guarantee them the right to vote.

What is the role of the Prime Minister in the COM?

The Prime Minister is the head of the Central Council of Ministers in an executive capacity. The position he holds is often described as “first among equals”, wherein the PM has a unique role and is considered the primary leader of the COM, but is nevertheless equal to his ministers.

Notably, Article 75 states: “The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People.” Additionally, the PM is responsible for decision-making on all important policy issues and other portfolios not allocated to any other minister.

For instance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions — a position he held in the outgoing council as well. He also supervises the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Space.

The Prime Minister additionally serves as head of the Cabinet Secretariat, the government body which supervises the day-to-day administration of the government and the conduct of business between ministries. Additionally, he heads the NITI Aayog and the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

Who are the Cabinet Ministers?

The cabinet ministers are ranked as the senior-most in the council, second only to the Prime Minister. They oversee the strategic and important ministries of the Central government – ​​related to Home Affairs, Finance, Defence, etc. – With the authority to organize and attend meetings and make important policy decisions.

In the new COM, Amit Shah has been re-appointed Home Minister, tasked with overseeing the maintenance of the country’s internal security, including the police force. Also retaining their posts from the outgoing cabinet are Nitin Gadkari as Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nirmala Sitharaman as Finance Minister, and Rajnath Singh as Defense Minister.

This time, 37 ministers have been dropped from the outgoing cabinet.

Who are the Ministers of State (Independent Charge)?

Ministers of state are junior members of the COM. A Minister of State (Independent Charge) is empowered to administer their respective ministry without oversight from cabinet ministers or other members of the Union government.

In the outgoing council, Rao Inderjit Singh served as Minister of State (Independent Charge), overseeing both the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation and the Ministry of Planning. Dr. Jitendra Singh served as Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Arjun Ram Meghwal served in the same capacity, overseeing the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The new council has retained all three members from the outgoing council and has inducted Prataprao Jadhav and Jayant Chaudhary as well.

Who are the Ministers of State?

As opposed to a Minister of State (Independent Charge), a Minister of State does not enjoy the foremost administrative duties over a ministry, but assists a cabinet minister with the same, and is responsible for specific functions as delegated to them by their superior.

Ministries with crucial mandates such as the Home Ministry, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry may have two or three ministers of state working with the cabinet minister.

The outgoing council had 42 Ministers of State.