Ministers of state need not worry

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By JAYANTH JACOB in Delhi
  • Published 27.05.09
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New Delhi, May 27: Some MPs were today heard asking veterans the difference among a cabinet minister, a minister of state with independent charge and a simple minister of state.

If the would-be ministers were wondering about pay and perks, they can rest easy.

There is not much of a difference between a cabinet minister and the other two categories in terms of allowances. Some variations do exist but not significant enough to warrant differences in the lifestyles of those holding the three ranks.

However, when it comes to stepping into the most power-packed room in the country, the ranks do come into play. Cabinet meetings are open to ministers carrying that prefix. A minister of state with independent charge can also attend cabinet meetings but only when an important discussion related to that particular ministry is on the agenda.

The minister of state loses out on this count — besides, unlike the other two, the junior minister will have to worry about his senior breathing down his neck. Another difference lies in the choice of personal staff. Only cabinet ministers appoint an IAS officer as personal secretary but it is not clear whether this is a convention or a rule.

The right to appoint officers on special duty (OSDs) also differs. If a minister of state insists on having an OSD, the minister will have to give up two slots from the entitlement of 13 personal staff.

Any overseas trip — by all three categories — has to be cleared by the Prime Minister. On a foreign trip, the minister can be accompanied by spouse.