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General Studies 2 >> Polity

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1. Context

Congress party president Mallikarjun Kharge announced Siddaramaiah to be the next Chief Minister of Karnataka on Thursday (May 18), 2023 ending the contest that was largely between him and DK Shivakumar. Shivakumar was appointed the Deputy Chief Minister at the swearing-in ceremony which was held recently.

2. What is the Deputy CM Post

  • Article 164 deals with the appointment of the state's Council of Ministers.
  •  It says the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and Ministers shall hold office at the pleasure of the Governor.
  • There is no mention of the Deputy CM post here. The post is understood as being equivalent to the rank of a cabinet minister (in the state) and enjoys the pay and the perks that a cabinet minister is entitled to.
  • The same applies to the post of Deputy Prime Minister, which was first held by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel while Jawaharlal Nehru was PM, representatives of different streams of political thought in the Congress party.
  • In 1989, when Haryana heavyweight Devi Lal Chaudhary was made the Deputy PM – to V P Singh’s PM – after the coalition Janata Dal government was formed, his appointment was challenged in court because in his oath he mentioned the post of the Deputy, which is not a constitutional post.

3. A brief history of the Deputy CM Post

  • Perhaps the first leader to hold the post in independent India was the Congress’s Anugrah Narayan Sinha, one of the tallest leaders to emerge from Bihar, termed the “mason of modern Bihar and its politics”.
  • An upper caste Rajput leader from Aurangabad, Sinha was the first Deputy Premier and later the first deputy CM of Bihar, in independent India. He first became Deputy Premier between 1937 and 1939 and then from 1946 to 1952.  
  • He was among the most important Congress leaders of his time, along with the first CM of Bihar, Dr Srikrishna Singh. Sinha concurrently held the finance portfolio while serving as deputy premier and deputy CM.
  • After the first general elections in 1952, he became deputy CM and kept the position till his death in 1957. He had lost the CM race to Singh, earlier. 
  • Karpoori Thakur became the second deputy Chief Minister of Bihar in 1967, under the first non-Congress government led by Mahamaya Prasad Sinha.
  • After Ram Jaipal Singh Yadav’s appointment to the post in 1971, it was a while until a Deputy CM would be appointed.
  • In 2005, Sushil Kumar Modi was sworn in and held the position for over 13 years altogether. Currently, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav is at the post.
  • His party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, is the largest in the State Assembly. But Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar holds the chief ministership after he broke ties with the BJP, facilitating the Mahagathbandhan alliance government of which the RJD is a part.
  • More states began to follow this pattern, partly because of the reduction in the Congress’s near-total dominance on national politics that had extended from the time of independence to the general elections of 1967.
  • It returned to power that year but with a significant reduction in its seats. This led to the emergence of new parties and anti-Congress coalitions in many states.

4. Council of Ministers

  • The group of representatives at the national level who contribute to the country’s development and take decisions on behalf of the people in the council of ministers.
  • In India, it is the legislature’s core and has the most crucial responsibility of running the country.
  • The head of the legislature is the Prime minister, who is appointed by the ruling party by the president and advises him on all the decisions.
  • The prime minister also chooses the people to represent the various portfolios and assigns them their responsibilities.
  • The salaries and perks of all the ministers are also decided in the parliament itself. The strength of the council of ministers will remain less than 15% of the total strength of the lower house and fluctuates depending upon the choice of the prime ministers.
  • The council of ministers is known to take all the decisions on behalf of the president, but the core advisors are the cabinet of ministers. The president is a nominal head of the country and most of the functions are carried out by the prime minister and his council.

5. Cabinet Ministers

  • The Council of Ministers consists of many organs and the most important of all is the cabinet of ministers.
  • The cabinet consists of all the senior ministers or the ministers who control the key sectors in the Parliament.
  • It consists of the home minister, defense minister, finance minister, and railway minister. One should always keep in mind that the country's prime minister heads both the council and the cabinet of ministers because the council of ministers includes the cabinet as well and is not a different body.
  • The key to the country's development lies in the hands of the cabinet ministers who are few in number, as much as 15 to 20, but most of the work is done by them.
  • The cabinet runs its own portfolios and participates in all the activities regarding the decisions for the country taken by the Prime Minister.
  • Therefore, the Prime Minister is dependent on the cabinet for the effective and smooth functioning of the country.

6. Difference between the Council and Cabinet of Ministers

Although most of the decisions lie with the cabinet and the council as the whole body of ministers, they are different in many aspects, some of which are discussed below.
Constitutional significance
The council of ministers has always been acknowledged by the constitution of India, but the cabinet was not privileged with the same since its inception. It was more like a formal body created for convenience. But as the significance of this body increased, it was acknowledged as a constitutional body in 1978. As of today, both bodies are a part of the constitution.
Number of Members 
The Council of Ministers is large and has as many as 55 to 60 members because it consists of many organs, including the Cabinet of Ministers. On the other hand, the cabinet of ministers is smaller in size as much as 15 to 20 members because it has the key ministers of the parliament who have sectors such as defense, finance, and home ministry.
The Council of Ministers represents a whole legislative body, but it does not exercise any actual powers as significant as the Cabinet of Ministers. It is more like a little body. On the other hand, the Cabinet of Ministers is the most significant and powerful organ of the Council of Ministers and has all the actual powers.
The Council of Ministers does not participate in decision-making and is an implementing authority in the parliament because the Cabinet of Ministers takes all the key decisions.
Physical position
Although the cabinet of ministers takes most of the key decisions, it is an organ of the Council of Ministers and is smaller than it. The Council of Ministers has various organs, including the cabinet but has nominal powers.
For Prelims: Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, Council OF Minsters, Article 164, Cabinet Minister.
Previous year Question
1. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2013)
1. The Council of Ministers in the Centre shall be collectively responsible to the Parliament.
2. The Union Ministers shall hold the office during the pleasure of the President of India.
3. The Prime Minister shall communicate to the President about the proposals for legislation.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 and 3 only
C. 1 and 3 only
D. 1, 2 and 3
Answer: B
Source: The Indian Express

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