Why does Narendra Modi need a jumbo cabinet?

Narendra Modi has a strong political mandate to cut bureaucratic flab, but jumbo cabinets are not exactly the optimal solution to governance challenges


Almost one in four parliamentarians elected on the National Democratic Alliance ticket in 2014 has a ministerial berth. Photo: PTI
Almost one in four parliamentarians elected on the National Democratic Alliance ticket in 2014 has a ministerial berth. Photo: PTI

There are now 78 members in the Narendra Modi cabinet. This means that almost one in four parliamentarians elected on the National Democratic Alliance ticket in 2014 has a ministerial berth. The cabinet’s size is just three short of the constitutional limit imposed by the 91st amendment. Minimum government, anyone?

This newspaper had once hoped that Modi would streamline his cabinet by merging ministries and shutting down irrelevant ones. Those hopes have been belied. Modi said in a recent interview that the expansion is to help the government pursue the February budget’s goals.

The jumbo cabinet headed by Manmohan Singh was an example of spreading political patronage across an unwieldy coalition. In contrast, Modi has a strong political mandate to cut bureaucratic flab rather than add bulk. Jumbo cabinets are not exactly the optimal solution to governance challenges.

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