New Delhi: With the outgoing 16th Lok Sabha completing its term, almost half of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet was occupied by ministers who were not directly elected by people of the country. As per the government data, 12 of the 25 current cabinet ministers in the who are members of the Rajya Sabha.
They are Arun Jaitley, Suresh Prabhu, Ravi Shankar Prasad, J.P. Nadda, Chaudhary Birender Singh, Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Smriti Irani, Prakash Javadekar, Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Of them, Prasad and Irani will be contesting 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Patna Saheb and Amethi, respectively.
Also, there are seven junior ministers — K.J. Alphons, Vijay Goel, Mansukh Mandviya, Parshottam Rupala, Ramdas Athawale and Shiv Pratap Shukla — in the government, who are Rajya Sabha members. There were six Rajya Sabha members in the first Cabinet that was formed after the NDA government came in power in 2014 while the UPA government had eight ministers elected from the upper house in the 29-member Cabinet.
Many leaders had taken a dig at then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his back-door entry into Parliament as he represented Assam in the upper house. A sizable representation of Rajya Sabha members in the Cabinet does not question legal validity of the Constitution but it is pertinent to see if it is in accordance with the democratic spirit, said an political expert, who wished not to be named.
When the portfolio allocation of 46 ministers was released in May 2014, as many as six of total 24 Cabinet ministers were members of the Rajya Sabha. They were current Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Najma Heptulla, Jaitley, Prasad, Gehlot and Irani.
In November 2014, 21 more minister were inducted in the council of ministers including four Cabinet ministers – Nadda, Birender Singh, Prabhu and Manohar Parrikar (who died earlier this year. Later, Ministers of State (Independent Charge) Javadekar and Goyal were promoted as Cabinet Ministers.