A day after inducting 21 members in his council of ministers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday asked his revamped team to work with full dedication (samarpit bhav) and lead a simple life. He said clearly that ministers have no off days and instructed them not to "leak" outside any discussions of the cabinet meeting. "Mantriyon ka koi chhutti nahin hota hai," the PM was learnt to have told his ministers.
In his second meeting with his council of ministers since he took over last May, Modi told the new entrants to be fully prepared for the upcoming parliament session cautioning that they would be under intense media glare. Asking ministers not to go on leave, Modi-- who works even on Sundays--added that if they must, they should take permission from the Parliamentary Affairs Minister.
“Advising the ministers to lead a simple life and avoid ostentation, he asked us to respect other colleagues in the government and in parliament and to be polite to everyone at all times,” a minister told HT, requesting anonymity.
Although the meeting was slotted for half an hour, it went on for two-and-a-half hours with senior ministers also taking turns to share their views. Besides Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley and parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu spoke at the meeting.
Even as he asked his ministers to be "well-prepared" and "to do home-work", Modi asked the ministers not to leak cabinet discussions outside. Pointing out media reports of his meeting with would-be ministers on Sunday morning, Modi remarked, “I had asked ministers not to touch my feet. I was surprised that even those issues have came out in the media.”
The Prime Minister told the new ministers that their conduct and performance will be under scrutiny during the forthcoming parliament session. “Be prepared and perform. All eyes would be on you. Our sole focus should be on performance.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had business in mind. He told the ministers to prepare for the budget discussions as well. “Prepare yourself and try to understand the requirement of your ministry. Before we meet to discuss the Budget proposal, you should prepare yourself for this,” Jaitley said.
Amid murmurs that a few ministers are not happy with their ranks and portfolios, Modi insisted: “there is nothing like big work or small work. Try to understand the nuances of every subject related to your ministry”.
A large part of the meeting was spent also on exchanging pleasantries. Prime Minister’s principal secretary Nripendra Mishra was also present at the meeting.