PM Modi, Rajnath Singh on 6 Cabinet committees, Amit Shah on all 8
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has revamped the various Cabinet committees that are key to the government’s decision-making process, making adjustments for newly inducted ministers and new portfolios handed out to members of his previous Cabinet.
A day after announcing new Cabinet committees for employment and growth, the government on Thursday reconstituted six other panels. In a continuation of the Modi government’s policy, home minister Amit Shah is part of all the committees, just as his predecessor Rajnath Singh was between 2014 and 2019. The Prime Minister himself is a member of six as is defence minister Singh.
Interestingly, in the list released on Thursday morning, Singh was named as a member of just two, albeit crucial committees -- the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). Later in the evening, he was added as a member to four more committees, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA), the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, the Cabinet Committee on Investment & Growth, and the Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development.
PM Modi is on all panels except the accommodations and parliamentary affairs committees, finance minister Niramala Sitharaman on seven (all except the appointments committee) and commerce and railways minister Piyush Goyal on five (all except the appointments, parliamentary affairs and security committees). New external affairs minister S Jaishankar is a part of the CCS and CCEA.
The committees also have several other special invitees from the Cabinet, apart from senior bureaucrats.
The Cabinet committees together serve as the main driving force for all major policy and executive decisions, which must get an approval from the Union Cabinet or its committees. The CCS, for example, takes a final call on all matters of internal and external security; all major investment projects or schemes are cleared by the panel on economic affairs; and the committee on parliamentary affairs decides the schedule of Parliament sessions. Experts said before Singh’s name was added to the four committees that the composition of the committees seemed to establish Shah, who is also the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the most influential member of the Cabinet after the Prime Minister.
“Generally the second person sworn in [Rajnath Singh in this case] is considered the No 2 in government. It is clear now that it is the home minister who has been given a lot of importance,’’ said BK Chaturvedi, who served as cabinet secretary during the Manmohan Singh government.
With Singh’s inclusion, most Cabinet committees are now packed with the senior-most ministers of the second Modi government.
“For any Prime Minister, the importance of the Cabinet committees is supreme. I have seen, how on key policy issues such as the Urea policy or the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojna, PM Modi asked for a peer review even after the PMO okayed the schemes. He often sent big policy drafts to group of ministers before they were being placed at a Cabinet or a Cabinet committee meeting,” said former rural development secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra.