From selection of a member for the National Commission for Women to guidelines for Internet governance, an informal group of ministers is the new cabinet.
The Sunday Express has learnt from multiple sources in the government that since March, proposals sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) have led to creation of at least 16 informal groups of ministers. Once the ‘informal group’ gives its consent, the proposal is cleared by the cabinet without much discussion, sources said.
This is a departure from the governance style witnessed in the early days of the Modi government which began by scrapping nine Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) and 21 Group of Ministers (GoM).
Sources said Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is in several of these ‘informal groups’ as de facto chairman.
Until recently, a draft cabinet note circulated in the ministry concerned had to wait for the PMO nod, sources said. In case the PMO wanted changes, these would be incorporated and sent back for approval before being introduced in the cabinet.
“The Prime Minister is interested in specifics and every detail of any policy decision. But he also realises that the PMO cannot get involved in everything since governance has acquired pace. So the idea and spirit behind such informal groups are to ensure quality discussion on the subject before it appears in the cabinet,” sources said.
But some in the cabinet believe the change in style came in the wake of former PM Manmohan Singh becoming an accused in the coal scam for having processed the files.
Informal groups were constituted recently for among other things: Amendment to Juvenile Justice Act; Guidelines for Internet governance; Amendment to Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act; Bureau of Indian Standards (Amendment) Bill.