For quicker decision-making By abolishing the system of having Empowered Groups of Ministers and Groups of Ministers â€” of which there were nine and 21 respectively that he inherited from the UPA government â€” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent out an unequivocal message: the new BJP-led NDA intends to end the â€œpolicy paralysisâ€ that its predecessor was accused of, and achieve its goal of â€œminimum government, maximum governance.â€ A press note issued by the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office said this would empower the Ministries, expedite decision-making and usher in greater accountability. The mechanism of EGoMs and GoMs had been created by the first NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to tackle complex policy issues and resolve the clash of interests that are inevitable in a democracy, more so in a coalition where inter-ministerial turf wars are harder to resolve. However, under the UPA it often became an instrument to delay decisions. At one stage in UPA-II, around 80 such groups were grappling with a vast array of issues ranging from contentious matters such as the creation of Telangana, to the hotly debated ones of food security and land acquisition, to routine subjects such as post-retirement medical schemes and the age of superannuation for public sector workers. In the process, the authority and supremacy of the PMO got eroded, with the last incumbent, Dr. Manmohan Singh, virtually handing over his powers to the Ministers who headed most of these groups â€” Pranab Mukherjee, Sharad Pawar, P. Chidambaram and A.K. Antony, all men of differing styles and persuasion. Mr. Modi has made it clear he will brook no delay in taking decisions, and that he will have the last word on policy-making. While this should restore coherence in the functioning of the government, especially as the BJPâ€™s decisive electoral mandate will ensure it is not hampered by difficult coalition partners, Mr. Modi must guard against administration by fiat. The Congress, citing the PMO press release that has asked all Ministers who have difficulties in deciding issues relating to their own Ministry to refer them to the PMO and the Cabinet Secretariat for resolution, has cautioned that this should not lead to an unhealthy â€œcentralisation of powerâ€ and an â€œautocratic regime in the future.â€ An omniscient super-PMO must not destroy the Cabinet system that envisages decisions through consensus. Rather, Mr. Modi should act as a facilitator, using persuasion and not diktat. He must rely on the collective wisdom of his Cabinet colleagues to create an effective â€” and harmonious â€” administration. In order to meet peopleâ€™s expectations, Mr. Modi must not be tempted to become a single point of power, governing as he conducted his campaign, in a presidential manner, focussing all authority in the PMO. What worked in Gujarat may not succeed all across India. For quicker decision-making - The Hindu ******************************************************************************* Mr. Modi has made it clear he will brook no delay in taking decisions, and that he will have the last word on policy-making. Or is this a better option that brought MMS and the Congress to grief. Policies should be decided by the PM in consultations with his trusted political aides and minister. Once it is decided, then a free hand should be given to those who implement the same. That sure is the way to go. Or is it not?