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Junior Ministers Complain To PM Seniors Not Giving Work

Ministers of State complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday that they were not being given adequate work by their seniors. The PM assured them that the matter would be looked into. Out of
PTI January 19, 2010 19:44 IST

Ministers of State complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday that they were not being given adequate work by their seniors. The PM assured them that the matter would be looked into.

Out of 36 junior ministers, 33 attended the meeting and at least 12 of them gave vent to their grievances. S S Palanimanickam, Minister of State for Finance of the DMK, was the only one who said that he was "satisfied", according to those present at the meeting.

"We are not getting responsibility. We do not have information about what is happening in our own ministry. More than responsibility and work, what is more important is empowerment," a Trinamool Congress minister, who declined to be identified, said.

Congress Minister of State K H Muniappa, who is working under Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, steered clear of questions whether he was getting proper work in his ministry.

"That is the issue the Prime Minister will look into", he said adding that Singh was "concerned" about the MoS and their performance.

 A press release from the PMO said the Prime Minister discussed "ways and means for better utilisation of the enormous pool of talent" available in the team of Ministers of State.

He requested the MoS to "do their best to make governance effective and to convey the message of the government to the people".

Minister of State for HRD D Purandeshwari said junior ministers had placed their concerns before the Prime Minister who took note of them and assured them that he would discuss the issues with the Cabinet Ministers.

Asked whether there were any complaints made by them against senior ministers, she said, "No, they had suggestions and I think the Prime Minister will discuss (them) with the cabinet ministers."

The Prime Minister "definitely felt that we need to be quite active, we need to be more participative and assist the cabinet ministers. ....He has actually reminded us that as Ministers of State we also have an important role to play in assisting the cabinet ministers," Purandeshiwari said.

At the same time, she clarified that her relations with her senior Kapil Sibal have been "quite good" and she was invited whenever there was discussion on policy matters.

A DMK minister said the Prime Minister asked his junior colleagues to be "the eyes and ears" of the Government and reach out to the people.

Some of them felt they could have been better utilized. However, he said DMK as a party was happy with the allocation of work and the treatment given by the cabinet ministers to their junior colleagues.

 Another Trinamool Congress minister said in the meeting that they were ready to take additional responsibilities and burden and work harder to meet the aspirations of the people.

"We have our own experiences which can be put to use while implementing people-oriented programmes," he said and added that implementation of such programmes should be expedited.

The meeting came against the backdrop of a feeling of resentment among some of the junior ministers who felt they were "under-utilised" as cabinet ministers failed to allocate them much work.

There was also talk in the government circles that some junior ministers did not attend office frequently due to lack of adequate work. Matters came to such a pass that one of the alliance leaders wrote to the Prime Minister requesting him to direct a cabinet minister to allot more work to his party minister.

Reports said the Prime Minister wrote to his cabinet colleagues soon after taking over for the second time in May last year that they should give their junior colleagues adequate responsibility in their ministries.

During the BJP-led NDA rule too, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had received complaints from junior ministers that their seniors were ignoring them in allocation of work. 

In the midst of complaints by several junior ministers about non-allocation of works by their seniors, Minister of State for Home Ajay Maken on Tuesday  came out in defence of his senior colleague P Chidambaram saying he was more than happy with the task he was getting.

Reacting to various queries about the work allotment and relation vis-a-vis the Cabinet minister, Maken said he was more than happy and satisfied as far as his relations with Chidambaram was concerned. 

Regarding the issue of quantum of work allotted, he said his hands were full and the best way to get work and responsibilities allocated was by consistently proving one's ability and integrity to perform, which in turn goes on to instill confidence in not only the senior minister but the bureaucracy as well. 

"The growth in quantum of work allocated and responsibilities delegated is directly proportional to the growth in confidence thus generated," he said in a statement.  Maken's comment came following reports that several ministers of state have complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held a meeting with all junior ministers today, that they were not getting adequate works from their senior colleagues. PTI