New Delhi: Junior ministers in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday that they weren’t being given enough work by their senior colleagues.
The 33 ministers of state, out of a total 36, who attended the meeting said they weren’t involved in decision making, kept in the dark about appointments in their departments and didn’t have access to important files.
The Prime Minister’s Office sought to downplay the disgruntlement.
“The meeting discussed ways and means for better utilization of the enormous pool of talent available in the team of ministers of state,” it said in a release. “The Prime Minister requested the ministers of state to do their best to make governance effective and to convey the message of the government to the people.”
Hearing complaints: Manmohan Singh requested ministers to do their best to make governance effective.Kamal Kishore/PTI
According to a minister, who attended the meeting but requested anonymity, Congress junior textile minister Panabaka Lakshmi told Singh that she had been shown just one file in her tenure.
Two ministers said seniors took key decisions after consulting officials, not their junior colleagues.
Saugata Ray, minister of state in the urban development ministry, spoke on behalf of the six Trinamool Congress ministers and asked the Prime Minister to allocate responsibilities instead of “expecting” cabinet ministers to do.
Mint could not individually confirm the comments made by the ministers as they could not be reached despite repeated attempts.
Singh, who also received such complaints during the first UPA tenure, assured the ministers that he would take up the matter with cabinet ministers and said he would convene more such meetings.
B.G. Verghese, political analyst and visiting professor, Centre for Policy Research, pointed out that an excess of ministers has resulted in divided opinions and lack of integrated thinking and coordination. “All these are adding to bad governance,” he said.
He also said the post had become increasingly ceremonial because ministers “are accommodated to give representation to all states, social categories, communities and parties”.