Narendra Modi sworn in as India’s PM for third term

Narendra Modi has been inaugurated as India’s Prime Minister for a historic third term, marking the beginning of a new chapter in coalition politics for the country’s dominant leader. The swearing-in ceremony was held at the presidential palace on Sunday evening, signifying Modi’s return to power as only the second leader in Indian history to secure three consecutive terms.

A jubilant Modi stood alongside two prominent figures from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah, both of whom were confirmed to continue as cabinet ministers. As Modi approached the podium to take his oath before President Droupadi Murmu, the crowd erupted in enthusiastic applause.

Modi’s third term is anticipated to differ significantly from his previous ten years in office due to an unexpectedly tough election for the BJP. Although the party secured the most seats in the election, which spanned nearly two months and concluded with the results announced on Tuesday, it did not achieve an outright majority.

Consequently, Modi had to depend on coalition partners, including smaller regional parties, to amass enough seats for a parliamentary majority and to form the government. This marks the first time that Modi, who is accustomed to a dominant leadership style, must operate within a power-sharing framework, with coalition partners holding several cabinet and ministerial positions.

Political analysts suggest that the BJP’s new reliance on secular coalition parties could pose challenges for Modi and potentially temper some of the more authoritarian and autocratic aspects of his previous administration, particularly his focus on Hindu-first policies.

Since taking office in 2014, Modi has transformed India with a vigorous Hindu nationalist agenda, garnering extensive support from the country’s 80% Hindu majority. His supporters attribute India’s economic growth and enhanced global stature to his leadership, though he lost significant voter support in the recent election due to persistent unemployment and concerns about the state of India’s democracy.

In his address to coalition partners over the weekend, Modi responded to claims by the opposition alliance that the election was a setback for him. “We did not lose,” he asserted, while also adopting a rare conciliatory tone, stating, “To run the government, a majority is necessary. But to run the nation, a consensus is necessary.”

The opposition coalition, known by the acronym INDIA, outperformed pre-election predictions and will return to parliament with over 230 seats, more than doubling their previous count.

Dignitaries from neighboring countries, including Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe, attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. Also present were two of India’s wealthiest industrialists, Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani, known for their close ties to Modi, as well as Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

Mallikarjun Kharge, president of the Congress party, attended the ceremony representing the INDIA opposition alliance, though other opposition leaders boycotted the event. Mamata Banerjee, leader of the Trinamool Congress party, declined to attend, labeling the government formation as “illegal and undemocratic,” and adding that such governments “sometimes last only for a day.”

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