A tolerable team

All cabinets are the results of compromises and considerations of various kinds and reflect the perceptions and priorities of the head of government and the party leadership. The compromise is mainly between political compulsions and administrative needs and therefore cabinets in democracies do not always represent the best talents in the country. Manmohan Singh’s 79-member ministry, which became full-fledged on Thursday with the swearing-in of 59 more ministers, also is a good compromise. The prime minister has tried to balance experience with new talent, efficiency with loyalty and administrative needs with regional representation. The delay in the formation of the ministry shows the heavy work that went into it by way of selection and rejection, and the outcome is there to be seen and tested in the next five years.

There are choices which can be questioned and omissions which will be noticed. The cabinet is heavy with age; more young faces would have given it a more dynamic look. The younger lot, especially of the ‘Rahul brigade,’ is there but they are all at the junior level.  The regional representation is slightly lopsided, with states like Kerala getting more than their due and those like Andhra Pradesh and UP, which had an important role getting the Congress its present numbers, going under represented. Karnataka has got a fair representation which it deserves because of the poor deal it had got in the recent past. There is less number of women in the ministry than in the previous one, though there are more women members now than in the last Lok Sabha. The prime minister does not have much room to correct the imbalances now, with the strength of the ministry touching the upper limit. At the level of individual selections, no credit is due to anyone for inducting Vilasrao Deshmukh, who had to resign as Maharashtra chief minister in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attack, or taking Virbhadra Singh out of the Himachal Pradesh woodwork.

The UPA allies are well represented, and the prime minister and the Congress leadership deserves praise for calling the bluff of the DMK, which pitched its demands too high. With the most important post-election exercise over, it is now for the government to look at the future and for the ministers to get down to work.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)