What are the powers and functions of the Prime Minister of India?

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The Prime Minister of India holds the pivotal position and in fact he is more powerful than the President.

The office of the Prime Minister first originated in England and was borrowed by the framers of the constitution. Article 74(i) of our constitution expressly states that the Prime Minister shall be at the head- of the council of ministers. Hence, the other ministers cannot function without the Prime Minister.

Lord Morley described him primes interpaves (first among equals) and Sir William Vernon called him inter stellas luna minores (moon among the stars). Harold Laski, on the other hand called him "The pivot of the whole system of Government" Ivon Jeanings described him "The sun round which the planets revolve."

Beloft called him "dictator" and Hinton said the Prime Minister was an elected monarch.

The Prime Minister is the heart of the Cabinet, focal point of the political system. He is the real executive of the country despite the constitutional provisions of the west minister model of cabinet Government in India, the Prime Minister has emerged as the undisputed chief of the executive. The personality of the Prime Minister determines the nature of the authority that he or she is likely to exercise.

Theoretically, the Prime Minister is selected by the President of India. In reality, the President invites the leader of the majority party in Parliament to form the council of ministers. Usually, political parties go to the parliamentary polls with a clear choice of their leaders. For the most part, the voters know, if and when a particular party wins a majority in the lower house of parliament, who is likely to be-the Prime Minister.

The President can exercise some discretion in the selection of the Prime Minister when no party commands a clear majority in the lower house of parliament. In such circumstances, the President may request the single largest party to form Government or alternatively, he may allow a coalition Government to be formed.

When a party leader has a clear majority support in the lower house of parliament, the President has no choice but to call upon him to form the council of ministers.

Powers and functions of the Prime Minister;

The Prime Minister performs many significant functions in the Indian political system and exercises vast powers to his advantage. He is the chief executive of the nation and works as head of the Union Government.

"The Prime Minister is according to Nehiir, "The Linch-Pin of the Government" and as such his powers and I functions are following :

(1) Head of Government:

The President of India is Head of state while PRIME MINISTER is Head of Government. Although the President of India is vested with many executive powers, in actual practice he or she acts only at the advice of the Prime Minister and the cabinet.

All major appointments of the Union Government are virtually made by the Prime Minister and all the major decision-making bodies likes the Union Cabinet, Planning Commission, Cabinet Committee functions under his supervision and direction.

(2) Leader of the Cabinet:

The Prime Minister is the leader of the cabinet. According to Article 74(i), "There shall be I a council of ministers with the Prime Minister at the head." Like I the feritish Prime Minister he is not only primus inter pares but to use Ivor Jeanings phrase, a sun around which other ministers revolve like planets. It is he who selects the other ministers. It is he who distributes portfolios among them.

It is he who presides over meetings of the cabinet and determines what business shall be transacted at these meetings. He can change the personel of the cabinet at any time by demanding a minister's resignation or having him dismissed by the President. Mukherjee, Mathai, Neogy, Ambedkar, and C.D. Deshmukh resigned mainly because of personal differences with Nehru.

The Prime Minister, as Chairman of the cabinet can influence cabinet decisions which are made by consensus more often than by voting. It is for the Prime Minister to sum of the sense of the meeting and declare the consensus. His resignation involves the resignation of all ministers.

Laski's dictum, "the Prime Minister is central to the formation of the council of ministers, central to its life and central to its death is as true of the Prime Minister of India as of his British counterpart.

(3) Link between President and the cabinet:

Article 78 of the constitution defines the duties of the Prime Minister, and in the discharge of those duties reacts as a link between the President and the cabinet.

The duties defined in this Article are. (a) to communicate to the President all decisions of the council of ministers, (b) 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 (c) if the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter of which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.

(4) Leader of the Parliament:

The Prime Minister is the leader of the Parliament. He determines the dates of its meetings, as also its programmes for the session. He decides when the Houses is to be prorogued or dissolved. He is the chief spokes man of the Government in the House and it is he who usually keeps it informed about the Government's intentions.

As leader of the House, the Prime Minister is in a special position of special advantage. He makes announcement of principal Government policies and answers questions on super-departmental lines.

He can correct the errors made by his ministers on the floor of the House and can even rebuke and reprimand them. He can carry the House with him on all matters of importance. He represents the cabinet as a whole unlike any other members of the Government.

(5) Chief Spokesman in foreign relations:

In International relations the Prime Minister is regarded as chief spokesman of the country. His statements are, for the outside world; statements of policies of the nation. In international conferences it is he who speaks for the nation.

In dealing with non-aligned countries and conference he likes the lead our Prime Minister have had a special interest in Foreign affairs and this has helped then to strengthen their position of have also.

(6) Leader of Party:

The Prime Ministers in India have tried to woo and cajole the party but they have also tried to dominate the party by conscious manipulation and manicuvre. Nehru forced Tandon to resign as congress President and took over the command of the party.

After the death of Patel, Nehru became supreme in the party and in the Government. He combined the two posts of party President and Prime Minister for three years from 1951-1954. These four years were important since they helped to create a congress habit of mind to look to the Prime Minister and not to the President of the Congress for political guidance.

Therefore, the Congress President was for all practical purposes a political cipher. After the congress split (1969), the party office worked on behalf of the Prime Minister and there was centralisation of power. Almost all the party Presidents were said to be virtually her nominee.

(7) Chairman of the Planning Commissions:

The Planning Commission is an extra-constitutional advisory body under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. It has covered all the spheres of activities of both the centre and the states.

It has become a super cabinet under the leadership of them Prime Minister. All important decisions, regarding the economic policy are taken by the planning commission under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.

From the above summary of the functions of the Prime Minister, it is obviously said the Prime Minister holds very important position in the country.


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