In two major departures, PM Narendra Modi has decided to exclude his ministers from having any say in senior-level appointments in their respective ministries and kept Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan out of the Cabinet Committee that will deal with issues related to food prices, PDS and FCI.
Also, days after scrapping three Cabinet Committees — dealing with prices, UIDAI-related issues, and World Trade Organisation related-matters — the PM incorporated their respective mandates in the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
So while the CCEA will now be dealing with all the six points of the erstwhile Cabinet Committee on prices, which included issues like the general price situation, export of essential and agricultural commodities particularly from FCI and considering measures required for making the PDS more efficient among others, it will be doing so without having the Food Minister on board.
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Incidentally, all these matters are under the direct administrative jurisdiction of Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who, as per the notification issued on Thursday, has not been named on the CCEA.
Given NDA’s reservations against UPA’s flagship Aadhaar project, which appeared all but shelved after the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI was scrapped, there is some hope for the beleaguered with the CCEA now being entrusted with dealing with “all issues relating to the UIDAI including its organization, plans, policies, programmes, schemes, funding and methodology to be adopted for achieving the objectives of that Authority” — the exact terminology used by the UPA government.
Further, Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh will now be clearing all senior appointments that are put up before the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet without having the minister-in-charge of the concerned ministry as part of the deliberations. This has been decided after the reconstitution of Cabinet Committees on Security, Political Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs, Economic Affairs, Accommodation and Appointments.
While the new government has largely stuck to tradition in naming ministers as members of these critical committees, it has made some interesting changes too. The External Affairs Minister, for instance, has been named on both CCEA and Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs — a departure from the UPA regime during which political lightweights appointed as External Affairs did not make it to both these important committees.
The government has named members from four allies — LJP, TDP, Shiv Sena and SAD — on the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs. They are Paswan, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Anant Geete and Harsimrat Kaur Badal. The UPA government too had named many of its allies on this Committee but by the end of its term, it was left with fewer allies. Badal and Raju are the only two allies to have found a place on the CCEA. The CCEA will also have Railways Minister Sadananda Gowda as its member from now on.
The government has also decided not to tinker with the all-important Cabinet Committee on Security. It will continue to have the PM, the Home Minister, the Defence Minister, the Finance Minister and the External Affairs Minister as its members.