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India’s Modi Sworn in for Third Term After Election Setback

NEW DELHI — Narendra Modi was sworn in for a third term on Sunday, despite facing worse-than-expected election results. Narendra Modi now relies on coalition partners to govern after his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to secure an outright majority.

Modi’s BJP, which has ruled outright for the past decade, could not repeat its previous landslide victories, defying analysts’ expectations and exit polls. Forced into quick talks with coalition partners within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Narendra Modi was sworn in for a third term and secured the necessary parliamentary numbers to continue governing.

Modi’s office announced a 71-member cabinet, including 11 ministers from NDA allies, a slight reduction from his previous 81-member cabinet. During the oath-taking ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Modi, flanked by top BJP officials and coalition leaders, vowed to “bear true allegiance” to the constitution.

Thousands, including BJP loyalists, Bollywood legend Shahrukh Khan, and billionaire tycoons Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani, gathered to witness Modi take his oath, dressed in a white kurta and blue waistcoat. South Asian leaders from Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka attended, while neighboring rivals China and Pakistan were notably absent.

The ceremony was overshadowed by a tragic incident in Kashmir, where gunmen ambushed a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims, causing it to tumble into a ravine and killing at least nine people. Modi’s government canceled the region’s limited autonomy in 2019, significantly reducing violence, but the incident highlighted ongoing tensions.

Senior opposition leader and Congress party president Mallikarjun Kharge condemned the “gruesome terror attack,” criticizing Modi’s claims of peace and normalcy in Kashmir.

Coalition partners demanded significant concessions for their support. Indian media speculated that key cabinet positions would remain under BJP control, with top BJP aides Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, and Nitin Gadkari expected to retain their influential roles. The first coalition member to take the oath was H.D. Kumaraswamy from Janata Dal (Secular).

Political analysts suggest that the coalition dynamics will force the BJP into a more consultative and conciliatory approach in parliamentary politics. Sajjan Kumar of the Delhi-based PRACCIS research group noted that the BJP would need to engage more with its coalition partners.

Modi’s chief rival, Rahul Gandhi, was nominated to lead India’s opposition in parliament after helping the Congress party nearly double its seats, achieving its best result in a decade. Gandhi, a scion of a political dynasty, aims to strengthen his party’s position in the Indian political landscape.


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