Justifying the latest expansion of Union Council of Ministers, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said 78 ministers were not a large number for a country as large and diverse as India.
Speaking to reporters after taking over charge from his Cabinet colleague and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, he said
Tuesday’s reshuffle had evoked a favourable reaction from people and even from some rival leaders.
There are some people, who, however, cannot take a positive view of anything, he added. “The Constitution allows 15 per cent of the strength of Lok Sabha for the Cabinet of the Prime Minister. We are well within that and it is a huge country. We have inherited huge problems and it needs a huge effort. For a country of our size and range of issues to be addressed, coordination with states and three tier institutions, I think 78 ministers is not certainly large,” he said.
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“The Prime Minister’s focus is more on delivery. It needs effective coordination, monitoring, that is why these inductions are made,” Naidu, who was earlier in charge of Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, said.
Rival parties have raised questions over the increase in the size of the Council of ministers in the context of PM’s mantra of ‘minimum government and maximum governance’. On the shifting of Smriti Irani from HRD to Textiles Ministry, Naidu asked reporters not to read too much into it.
“The person who you are talking about is also a dynamic person,” he said, adding, the decision regarding portfolios is the prerogative of the Prime Minister. “I don’t think anybody is unhappy about this,” he said.
Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naidu said he is the “hope of the nation” and after long time the country has a combination of a stable government and an able leader. Flanked by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore, Naidu thanked Jaitley for having given quality time and attention to the important ministry despite his preoccupation with Finance Ministry and the economy and said he would broadly like to carry on with the same approach.
He said his mission would be to ensure various media units of the government emerge as credible brands serving the cause of information to the people. On a question about religious leader Zakir Naik’s speeches, Naidu said, “We have time to study all these aspects” and added that he would be communicative and outspoken on issues.