Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers (ICSE 8)

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Prime Minister

The Constitution of India provides for a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as the head, to aid and advise the President. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President. Ours being a Parliamentary form of Government, the President is only a nominal Head of the State. The Council of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister is the most powerful institution in the Indian polity.

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Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Normally, only members of Parliament are appointed as Ministers. The Council of Ministers consists of all categories of Ministers- Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers.

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Appointment of Prime Minister

The Prime Minister is appointed by the President. The President cannot act arbitrarily in this appointment. According to convention, the President invites the leader of the majority party or group in the Lok Sabha to form the Government. The members of the majority party or the group elect their leader to be appointed as the Prime Minister. Then the President appoints him as the Prime Minister.

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Position and powers of the Prime Minister

The position and powers of the Prime Minister include:
(i) All the ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister;
(ii) The Prime Minister influences Cabinet decisions;
(iii) As Chairman of the Council of Ministers, he exercises a casting vote;
(iv) He acts as a link between the President and the Cabinet;
(v) He coordinates the policies of the various departments and ministries;
(vi) He is the leader of the Lok Sabha;
(vii) He is the chairman of the Panning Commission and the Atomic Energy Commission.

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Distinction between Council of Ministers and Cabinet

Council of MinistersCabinet
The Council of Ministers consists
of all categories of ministers- Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers.
The Cabinet is a smaller group consisting of 15 to 18 senior ministers holding important portfolios such as Defence, Finance, Railways, etc.
The Prime Minister may or may not consult the other Ministers below the rank of Cabinet Ministers.They are the most trusted colleagues of the Prime Minister and he always consults them.
In the day-to-day working of the government, the Council of Ministers as a whole rarely meets.The Cabinet determines the policy and programme of the Government; so its members meet frequently.