TODAY -

A dozen of Ministers is not enough

Free Thinker *



Once upon a time almost half the number of our legislators was in the Council of Ministers. There were as many as 28 ministers or even 29 Ministers ( including the CM ) in our sixty member legislative assembly.

Such a scenario was quite frequently visible in the last quarter of the 20th century , well before the 91st Constitution amendment, 2003. It was this amendment which restricted the number of ministers in the government both at the Centre and States.

We don't know whether our Chief Executive has taken up this crucial issue with the High Command. To us the vital issue is about re-amending Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution which restricts the number of ministers for the government.

In the beginning of the 21st century when our economy was not so strong our law makers wanted to curtail the expenditure of the govt.Actually we were not very affluent so the primary object of the 91st Amendment (2003) was to fix the number of ministers to save money.

Today we are a vibrant economy; fifth largest economy in the world ; our Foreign Exchange Reserves is nearing 500 Billion Dollars. Within a few years we are going to be a 5 Trillion Dollar Economy. Because of this COVID Babu there is some setback.

Economy is somewhat slowed down all over the globe. This is a temporary phase. The global economy along with ours will bounce back within a year or so. Experts say that we will be seriously competing with all the major economies of the world.

As a rich country , emerging superpower and as a nation which can feed the poor for months (during the pandemic) without taking a penny , must have the courage to remove the limit in the number of Ministership . The logic of 15 % of the total number of legislators is confusing; then why can't it be 10% as indicated in the statement of objects ( in the original Bill) ?

For the Federal government the number sounds reasonable .But for a small State like ours 15% of the total lawmakers or 12 Ministers is quite untenable as the ambition always exceeds the accommodation capacity.

In a 60 Member Legislative House everyone wants to become a minister if not the Chief Minister. One or two may desire to become the CM but most of the MLAs are not so ambitious, they simply want to be in the Council of Ministers, yes of course as Cabinet Ministers. That kind of longing or thinking is not wrong at all.

Because in politics the ultimate goal is to be part of the power structure. But such a thinking is very much discouraged as there is a fixed number of posts of Ministers.

In a way it curtails the Constitutional right of the Chief Executive who commands the support of the majority of the elected representatives of the people. Article 75 ( 1A) and 164 (1A) may be reframed so that we have more manpower in the government.

Considering our stable economy we may think of having large number of ministers after the Corona crisis. Talented legislators from different fields must be inducted in the government.

The incredible experiment of Parliamentary Secretaries in many States including ours couldn't pass the test of the Apex Court. But that was not a bad idea. That was in fact an endeavour to tap the versatile talents of our representatives and their utilisation for good governance.

Because of the number ceiling such meritorious representatives could not be accommodated in the Cabinet or the Council of Ministers.Hence it is also the right time to review these restrictions .

One local political analyst says the present anti-defection law is not perfect . We know that there is no perfect law anywhere in the world. Laws are dynamic and they need to be evolved according to the need of the hour. First version of the anti-defection law was improved upon . Now it is high time to further strengthen it by changing or amending it .

Once you are elected from a Party , you must continue in that party till the term is over ( no split clause or merger clause is required). If you go against the direction of the party they are automatically disqualified (under Election Commission ) and no need to wait for Presiding Officer's order. Such provisions may be added while revamping the Tenth Schedule.

Ministers will remain as Ministers as their resignations are not accepted. And they are still a part of the Government. Their reassuring support was once again extended to the incumbent government in the Raj Bhavan via Delhi through Shillong.

Now the present government has enough number to survive and continue. As of now the number is overflowing. Again amenable departed MLAs may be revived if they know where the sanjivani lies. Some prominent opposition Members are also ready to sacrifice to save the incumbent Government.

Ultimate question is whether the leadership has the intention to take full charge and make changes in the Council at his pleasure. The instruction seems to be more on saving and sustaining rather than risking and raking. Let's see how the manoeuvring takes place? A litmus test.

"A son-in-law in need is a son-in-law indeed"


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on July 10 2020 .



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