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Roles and Responsibilities of the Prime Minister

Roles and Responsibilities of the Prime Minister

There are seven important functions of the Prime Minister of India. These are :

  1. Formation of Ministry
  2. Distribution of Portfolios
  3. Chairman of the Cabinet Committee
  4. Chief Co-ordinator of Policies
  5. Sole Adviser to the President
  6. Leader of the Nation
  7. Formation of the Ministry

The Prime Minister forms the Ministry. With the appointment of the Prime Minister, the essential task of the President is over, for it is left to the Prime Minister to select his Ministers and present a list to the President. The President has no other alternative but to appoint the Ministers as recommended by the Prime Minister.

It is correctly said that the Prime Minister “is central to its (Ministry’s) formation, central to its life and central to its death”. The Prime Minister has the privilege to select his Cabinet colleagues. If the Prime Minister resigns, it means the resignation of the whole Ministry. When the Prime Minister dies, the Council of Ministers will automatically cease to exist. The Prime Minister may remove the members of Council of Ministers at any time by demanding the Ministers’ resignation or getting them dismissed, by the President.


  1. Distribution of Portfolios

Distribution of portfolios is another important task of the Prime Minister. He has a free hand in assigning various departments to his colleagues. It is for him to determine the size of the Cabinet and the Ministers to be included in it. He may even select ministers outside the rank if he feels that a person is fit for a job. While distributing portfolios he is to look that important members of the party do get important portfolios. In a federal State like India be is to see that Ministers are selected from all parts of the country.

Further, there might be some aspirants for a few important portfolios like Home, Defence or Finance. He has to bring amity and satisfy all in distributing the portfolios. His work is indeed a difficult one. As Lowell points out. “His work is like that of constructing a figure out of blocks which are too numerous for the purpose and which are not of shapes fit perfectly together”.

  1. Chairman of the Cabinet Committee

The Prime Minister is the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee. He convenes and presides over all the meetings of the Cabinet. He is to fix the agenda of such meeting.

The Prime Minister may warn advice or encourage them in discharge of their functions. He is the head of the Council of Ministers. He acts as the Chairman of various standing and ad-hoc Committees of the Cabinet.

  1. Chief Coordinator of Policies

The Prime Minister is the chief coordinator of the policies of several Departments. In case of conflicts between two departments, he acts as the mediator. He irons out quarrels among various Ministers and departments. He keeps an eye on the working of all Departments of the Government of India. He can ask for any file from any Ministry for his perusal.

In case of appointment of Governors and other high federal officers, the voice of the Prime Minister counts and not that of the other Ministers. He is always vigilant regarding the working of the important departments like the Finance, the Foreign Affairs and Home. He also keeps close touch with foreign ambassadors and represents the Union Government at the Conferences of Heads of Foreign Governments.

  1. Sole Adviser to the President

The Prime Minister is the sole adviser to the President. The right to advice for dissolution of the Lok Sabha rests with Prime Minister. The President is expected to accept the advice of the Prime Minister and not that of other Ministers.

The Prime Minister is the only channel of communication between the President and the Cabinet. He informs the President all the decisions taken in the Cabinet. If the President does not accept the advice of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister may resign. The resignation of the Prime minister will create difficulty for the President to find out an alternative Ministry.

As long as the Prime Minister enjoys the confidence of the majority members of the Lok Sabha it is difficult for the President to dismiss him.

  1. Leader of the Nation

The Prime Minister is the leader of the nation. He is the chief spokesman of the Governmental policies in the Parliament. All important policy announcements are made by him in the Parliament. He is the leader of the majority party and as such he usually becomes the leader of the House.

The British convention is that the Prime Minister should belong to the House of Commons. Such a convention is expected to develop in India whereby the Prime Minister will belong to the Lok Sabha which is the popular House in India.

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