PRIME MINISTER AND COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

Article 74(1) states that there shall be a Council of Ministers with a Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President. Thus, in India the Constitution itself recognizes a Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister is selected by the President. He necessarily appoints a person as the Prime Minister who is either the leader of the party which holds majority of seats in the Lok Sabha or is a person who is able to win the confidence of the Lok Sabha by gaining support of other political parties. All other ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Position of the Prime Minister

At one time the English Prime Minister was described as Primus inter pares i.e. first among equals. It was regarded that all Ministers are equal. Each one of them is advisor to the Crown and responsible of the Parliament. Another view regarded the Prime Minister as keystone of the arch of the Cabinet.

Right from the days of the first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister is treated not as equal to any other Minister but at a much higher pedestal. His preeminence rests on his commanding position in the Cabinet, coupled with fact that he is the leader of the majority party. During the period of the Congress rule at the centre the Prime Minister was usually the President of his party and the major campaigner in the elections. All these positions of power when combined in one person make him rank much above an ordinary Minister. The death or resignation of the Prime Minister automatically brings about the dissolution of the Council of Ministers. It generates a vacuum. The demise, resignation or dismissal of a Minister creates only a vacancy which the Prime Minister may or may not like to fill. The Government cannot function without a Prime Minister but the absence of a Minister is easily tolerated and compensated.

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