May 22, 2009
"Please sir, I want some more"
After an unexpectedly resounding win in the 2009 general election, the UPA and its post-poll allies are now in the business of government formation.
Having secured 206 seats, the Congress (I) reckons that it can't be pushed around as it was in 2004. So it is a little more aggressive when it comes to doling out ministries.
Its older allies, who've so far been used to having their way for the last 5 years, now find that the Congress (I) suddenly is talking to them in a different tone, minus the deference of the last five years.
It seems to have turned down a demand for 7 ministries by the DMK, causing the DMK to announce that it would not join the government but only provide outside support.
There can be at most 81 ministers. This is because the NDA government, in 2003, passed an amendment (the 91st amendment), which restricts the total number of ministers, including the Prime Minister, to not exceed 15% of the total number of members of the lower House (Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly).
The ministry size, including PM Manmohan Singh, must at most be 81, since 15% of 543 is 81.45 and the Supreme Court, a month ago, ruled that the Punjab government cabinet was in accordance with the limit based on the fact that the number being rounded off depending on whether the fraction was < 0.5 or >= 0.5.
The UPA has the support of 274 members [Congress (I) - 206, Trinamool Congress - 19, DMK - 18, NCP - 9, JKNC - 3, JMM - 2, IUML - 2, KC (Mani) - 1, AIMIM - 1 and VCK - 1) with 51 MPs from other parties [SP - 23, BSP - 21, RJD - 4 & LJP - 3] providing outside support.
Working out the proportion of seats each of the pre-poll and post-poll partners in the UPA has (out of 274), we get (numbers rounded-off to 1 decimal place) 75.2% for the Congress (I), 6.9% for the Trinamool, 6.6% for the DMK, 3.3% for the NCP, 1.8% for the RLD, 1.1% for the National Conference, 0.7% for the JMM & IUML, 0.4% for the KC (Mani), AIMIM & VCK and 2.6% for independents. This translates to (when multiplied by 81 and rounded down) 61 ministers from the Congress (I), 6 from the TMC, 5 from the DMK, 3 from the NCP, 2 from independents and 1 each for the NC, JMM, RLD & AIMIM.
The DMK really isn't justified asking for 7 slots in the ministry (3 of them just happen to be Karunanidhi's relatives - children Kanimozhi & Azhagiri and grand-nephew Dayanidhi Maran) when it only has 18 seats. It needed to have got something like 23-25 seats to demand 7 ministries, mainly because the Congress (I) is calling the shots now.
The government is safe in the Rajya Sabha too, since it has the support of 115 MPs. There are 245 seats, but 2 are vacant currently and a further 12 seats will be vacated due to Rajya Sabha MPs getting elected to the Lok Sabha.
I don't really see a need for the Congress (I) to keep entertaining Karunanidhi. He's going to be more pissed off than ever now, since his dear friend is probably dead and the organization he actively supports despite it being banned & declared a terrorist organization by multiple governments in the last 18 years, to which he was party to [except the Narasimha Rao (1991) and Vajpayee governments (1996 & 1998)]. He can go and tie up with the Third Front. The Samajwadi Party can always be co-opted in, especially given they're so eager to support the government so that Mayawati's UP government can be dismissed.
For what its worth, the outgoing Cabinet seems to have a strength of 75 (from the Cabinet Secretariat site) or 77 (from the Wikipedia entry).
Labels: congress (i), dmk, elections, lok sabha, ministers