After restructuring different ministries and departments in keeping with the BJP-led government’s motto of “minimum government, maximum governance”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday decided to discontinue four Standing Committees of the Cabinet and also reconstitute some crucial Cabinet Committees, including those on Security, Political Affairs, Economic Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs as well as the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).
The Standing Committees which have been scrapped are those on Management of Natural Calamities, Prices, Unique Identification Authority of India-related issues, and World Trade Organisation Matters.
Official sources said the Cabinet Committees are “co-terminus” with the government and reconstituting them is a “routine exercise” under a new regime. Sources, however, added the Prime Minister may add or reduce representation of ministers in the committees depending on their relevance.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), for instance, comprised the Prime Minister and ministers for Home, Defence, Finance and External Affairs. Given that the CCS deals with issues related to defence, law and order, internal security, political and economic issues impinging on national security, these four ministers are likely to continue in the committee, but it is up to the PM to add any more to this list.
Modi is likely to change the composition of the ACC, which comprised the PM, Home Minister and minister in charge of the concerned ministry.
Many other committees like those on Political, Economic and Parliamentary Affairs are likely to witness significant changes in their composition. While many alliance partners had got representation in these committees during the UPA regime, the NDA allies may not find place in most of them with the BJP having a clear majority in the Lok Sabha.
Reconstitution of many of these Cabinet Committees also became necessary after the restructuring of ministries, with 17 of them clubbed into seven organic ministries, said sources. Besides, some big committees, like the 10-member Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs and 11-member Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, may be downsized.
An official press release said the functions of the Cabinet Committee on Management of Natural Calamities would now be handled by the Committee under the Cabinet Secretary whenever natural calamities occur, and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs would take over the functions of the Cabinet Committee on Prices and the Cabinet Committee on World Trade Organisation Matters “whenever necessary”.
On the committee on UIDAI issues, the note said the major decisions in this area have already been taken and the remaining issues would be brought to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
The Prime Minister’s decision is said to be in keeping with his endeavour to trim administrative structures to make them more efficient. He had earlier abolished 30 Empowered Groups of Ministers (EGoMs) and GoMs that existed at the end of the tenure of the UPA government.