In this law note, you will learn about the roles and responsibilities of the Prime Minister of India. This note will consider various provisions provided in the Constitution of India and interpret them in light of the intention of the Constituent Assembly. By the end of the law note, you will be in a better position to answer whether the Prime Minister’s role is written or decisive (having the ability to make clear decisions quickly) in nature.
Constitutional Framework: Is It Weak?
Under Article 74 of the Indian Constitution, there shall be a Council of Ministers to aid and advise the President. And under Article 78 of the Indian Constitution, the Prime Minister is duty-bound to provide information to the President. The Prime Minister shall communicate all the decisions of the Council of Ministers to the President. By going through these provisions, one can say that the institution of the Prime Minister is not so powerful.
Who Is the Indian Prime Minister?
- As per Munro, Prime Minister is the captain of the ship.
- Prime Minister is the magnet and centre of attraction of the government.
- Constitutional provisions are neither sufficient nor relevant to understand the post and power of the Prime Minister.
- The Prime Minister, along with the Council of Ministers, act as a staffing agency for the President.
- Prime Minister is responsible, ethically and morally, for parliamentary democracy.
Role and Discretionary Powers
So, to understand the role of the Prime Minister, we must read things which are not written but decisive in nature. The role of the Prime Minister can be classified into two parts:
Note: We have discussed the managerial role under the “Exercising Care and Caution” part below.
In a parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister is the first responsible person for making and maintaining the political environment in their favour.
Prime Minister must analyse the political economy of the country. If the Prime Minister is not able to regulate politics at that time, it’ll be difficult to lead the Council of Ministers. It will be a delicate task to manage the microscopic activities of governance.
Political acumen and intelligentsia will be tested to constitute the Council of Ministers. For example:
- There are no constitutional provisions to assign a Muslim/non-Muslim to the role of Minority Affairs Minister. So, here is the decisive role of the Prime Minister based on the socio-political frame.
- Regional, caste, state and religious balance is very important. The Prime Minister has to create a conducive environment and get the confidence of the Council of Ministers and maintain the decorum of the House.
The Political Status of the Prime Minister: Head of Government
If Prime Minister dominates the House, he will not be successful. So, he must incorporate and integrate all pieces of advice. Parliamentary democracy will not be guided by legality but by legitimacy. It’s the responsibility of the Prime Minister to decide the direction and dimension of the country’s economy. Finance Minister is the manager of the economy, but Prime Minister is the director of the economy of the country.
Nana Palkhivala, while highlighting the current political scenario of the country, opined that: “Prime Ministers are not capable enough to incorporate states.” He mentioned the same as the Prime Ministers were seemingly misusing the power given to them. There was a tussle between various states and the union. Even today, we can see the same when the central laws are not appreciated by the Chief Ministers of the states, and there is a lot of political upheaving, as can be seen where the ruling parties of the states are dissimilar to that of the central government.
Prime Minister is expected to raise his stature. Prime Minister is not of any political party but of a nation. It is the collective effort of everyone not to politicise the position of the Prime Minister. With a sufficient fresh mindset, the Prime Minister can look outside for betterment when the domestic aspect is governed efficiently.
Kautilya was of the view that: “No king will be successful if he will not make allies.”
Exercising Care and Caution
Prime Minister is expected to be careful while drafting foreign policy. If the policies are not well-drafted, they will always be challenged from the outside. If the ecology of the county is supportive of the leader, the leader will be effective in the managerial area.
The managerial aspect of the Prime Minister includes:
- Planning: He must plan the future of the nation and its citizens.
- Organising: He must prioritise and set an agenda to achieve the goals.
- Staffing: He must include people of the highest calibre in the tasks of nation-building.
- Direction: A positive direction must be given, planned, and circulated for the policy framing.
- Coordination: A friendly term between the union and states is the most advisable for any legislation.
- Reporting: The Prime Minister is duty-bound to report to the President and aid and advice.
- Budgeting: To provide the best outcome from the worst available resource is the task the Prime Minister is expected to excel at.
The Prime Minister of a country must not suffer from the paralysis that is:
- Decision Paralysis: When the office is under pressure from various groups and where one or the other decision would still affect a certain class of citizens.
- Policy Paralysis: It is when the office of the Prime Minister has to look forward to various appeasement policies while calling to make serious changes to retain the confidence and support of the members of the parliament.
Analysis: Decisive or Written?
In a parliamentary democracy, no one will be responsible and accountable but the Prime Minister. And it will be the cosmological and social responsibility of the Prime Minister to socially guide the country and provide good governance. It will be the Prime Minister’s responsibility to social engineering. Thus the role of the Prime Minister is more decisive and less written.