D Dhanuraj, CPPR Chairman, comments on the news published in Arab News

  • Modi’s council of ministers also took their oaths on Sunday evening
  • Analysts expect the 73-year-old to reveal a new style of leadership

NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi resumed duties as the country’s leader on Monday, in a rare third term analysts expect will be challenging under the new coalition government.

Modi was sworn in for a third consecutive term on Sunday evening, becoming only the second leader after founding PM Jawaharlal Nehru to achieve the feat. His swearing-in was followed by his council of ministers — a group that included 30 cabinet ministers.

While the portfolios of the ministers are yet to be announced, Modi said he was keen on working with his new colleagues.

“I look forward to serving (1.4 billion) Indians and working with the Council of Ministers to take India to new heights of progress,” Modi wrote on X after taking the oath on Sunday evening.

“This team of ministers is a great blend of youth and experience, and we will leave no stone unturned in improving the lives of people.”

Some of the ministers who took the oath of office on Sunday were part of Modi’s last cabinet, including Amit Shah, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Nirmala Sitharaman, who had helmed the home, foreign, and finance ministries respectively.

Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has governed India as a part of the National Democratic Alliance over the past decade. While the coalition won the country’s mammoth election this month, the BJP lost its absolute majority for the first time since 2014, making it dependent on allies to form a government.

After several days of uncertainty over whether the coalition partners would back the BJP, the alliance leaders unanimously backed Modi on Friday as the leader of the NDA and their candidate for prime minister.

This is the first time in 23 years that Modi failed to secure a majority for the BJP either in state or national elections, including his time as the chief minister of the western Gujarat state.

The 73-year-old is expected to face challenges with the new setup, including political compromises to keep his NDA allies happy.

“In the coalition you will have to shed some of your ideological baggage and work with the coalition partners,” D Dhanuraj, chairman of the Kerala-based Center for Public Policy Research, told Arab News.

“In the last 10 years we were used to seeing Modi’s style of functioning; how he is going to keep his functioning style, it has to be seen. The challenge is that Modi is close to his own majority but he can’t have his own government. You will have to compromise and accommodate the wishes of the coalition partners.”

As Modi is expected to focus on his development agenda in the next five years, he is unlikely to face opposition within the NDA, Dhanuraj said.

“Any coalition government tries to remain stable for the first two years. By that time, the coalition knows (its) weaknesses and strengths,” he added.

Satish K. Singh, a political analyst and former consulting editor of Delhi-based Hindi channel ZEE News, said Modi’s third term would reveal a new style of leadership.

“Modi now knows that it can no longer be a one-way street now,” Singh said.

“The most paramount challenge in the third term is to keep the government safe — the arithmetic in the Lower House must be right. The second problem is Modi’s personality which tends to behave like a one-man show. Now Modi will have to have patience to listen to allies, he has to have patience to balance the interests of allies and deal with the pulls and pressure.”

Singh said Modi may have to change his economic policy to address farmers’ concerns and welfare issues, and to be more aligned with the priorities of allies within the NDA.

The strength of the opposition is also likely to bring new flavors to Indian politics, he added.

The NDA was challenged by an alliance of two dozen opposition parties — the Congress Party-led Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or INDIA, which won 232 seats, doubling its strength from the last election.

“Today, the opposition is not only more in numbers but they are also temperamentally more aggressive,” Singh said. “Modi will have to adapt some of the economic policies from the opposition’s manifesto, only then it would be able to survive smoothly.”

Views expressed by the author are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of the Centre for Public Policy Research.

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