The Parliamentary System of government is based upon the principle of the leadership of the Prime Minister. India has adopted the British model of Parliamentary democracy. The British system is a result of continuous evolution in the course of which the real centre or power has passed from the hands of the monarch to the House of Lords, from House of Lords to House of Commons and from House of Commons to the Cabinet and finally from the Cabinet to the all powerful Prime Minister.
The system that exists presently is described as the Prime Ministerial form of Government and in case of India also the same system was followed with little modifications. In the Indian political system, the office of the Prime Minister has become very powerful, although the constitution of the country gave him very limited powers. Article 74 only says that the Prime Minister shall be the head of the Council of Ministers.
Article 75(1) is related to the appointment of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers and Article 78 defines not the powers but the duties of the Prime Minister and in the discharge of those duties he acts as a link between the President and the Cabinet.
This was all the Constitution provided about the office of the Prime Minister, but this office has become so important that is considered that India has neither a Parliamentary nor a Cabinet but a Prime Minister system of Government.
The Prime Minister is the heart of the cabinet, focal point of the political system. He has emerged as the undisputed chief of the Executive. The constitutional provision giving him a free hand in choosing members of his Council, provide him with an opportunity to
Select those persons from his party who are acceptable to him. It is he who selects the other minister’s and distributes portfolio among them. He presides over meetings of the Cabinet and determines what business shall be transacted in these meetings. He can change the personnel of the Cabinet at any time by demanding a minister’s resignation or having him dismissed by the President. In Ivory Jennings’s phrase ‘he is a sun around which other ministers revolve like planets.
Prime Minister and the Parliament
The Prime Minister is the leader of the Parliament. He determines the dates of its meetings, as also its programmes. He is the leader of the House and the chief spokesman of the government in the House and it is he who usually keeps it informed about the government’s intentions. He makes announcement of principal government policies and answer questions on super-departments lines.
Prime Minister and the Party
The Prime Ministers in India have also tried to dominate the party by conscious manipulation and maneuver. Nehru forced Tendon to resign as Congress President and took over command of the Party. After the death of Patel (in December 1950) Nehru became Supreme in the party and in the Government.
He combined the two posts of Party President and Prime Minster for three years (1951-1954). From December 1950 to October 1962 (prior to the Chinese aggression on India), there were few fetters on his powers of appointing and dismissing ministers and conducting the working of the council of Ministers.
After the Congress split (1969), the Party office worked on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mrs. Indira Gandhi) and there was centralization of power. Almost all the party presidents were said to be virtually her nominee.
After the formation of the Congress (I), the Prime Minister virtually became the High Command of the Party. Mrs. Gandhi remained the Prime Minister as well as the Party’s President from 1980 – 1984. Rajiv Gandhi and PV. Narasimha Rao was also the Prime Minister as well as the President of the Congress (I) Party.
Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs
In international relations, the Prime Minister is regarded as chief spokesman of the country. In international or regional conferences, it is he who speaks for the nation. Our first Prime Minister was a co-founder of a policy of Non-alignment in the third world.
The complete list of Prime Ministers of India includes the persons sworn into the office as Prime Minister of India following the proclamation of the independence of India in 1947.