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No More Jr Ministers, Most Official Files to be Routed Through MoS

June 13, 2019 05:21 AM

courtesy ET JUNE 13

No More Jr Ministers, Most Official Files to be Routed Through MoS
Cabinet ministers to have more time to address top agenda, concerns on priority

New Delhi:

While ministers of state, or ‘junior ministers’ as they are usually referred to in government circles, are mostly kept off key areas and critical filework by the Cabinet ministers, the Union government is attempting some course correction now.

The Cabinet Secretariat has issued directions to all ministries and departments specifying that maximum official files will now on be routed through the ministers of state.

ET has learnt that the directions further say that certain paperwork need not be taken up to the Union Cabinet minister at all. These include Parliamentary assurances, their fulfilment and extension, special mentions, the laying of annual reports, rules and regulations and authentication of papers.

The move, officials say, will in fact probably bring a much bigger work load for the MoS than the Cabinet minister in many ministries. It will, however, also free up the Cabinet minister to address top governmental agenda concerns on priority.

So far, files pertaining only to work areas/divisions allocated to the MoS by the Cabinet minister in charge, are sent to the junior minister. Most MoS’ usually end up with very little involvement with ministerial work or governmental functioning across dispensations.

Though there is no specific work allocation yet outlined for the 31 Ministers of State working with senior Cabinet ministers under Modi 2.0, the directions on work template issued, indicate a more involved role for the junior ministers.

The Modi government’s new council of ministers consists of 24 Cabinet ministers, nine Ministers of State with independent charge and 31 Ministers of State. Modi government’s first stint in 2014 had 36 Ministers of State attached to various ministries.

Across ministries, both the Cabinet minister and the ministers of state have been holding separate meetings with officials.

In UPA 1, several MoS’ in a meeting with the then PM had expressed frustration at the lack of work.

Then PM Manmohan Singh had even asked all ministries to divide work in a more equitable fashion to allow MoS also to be constructively engaged. However, in practise, it has hardly been implemented with junior ministers fielded to mainly fill in for the busy cabinet minister, presiding over a few meetings, events and visits

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