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Modi sworn in for historic third term as India’s Prime Minister amid coalition challenges

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Narendra Modi was inaugurated as India’s prime minister for a record-equalling third term on Sunday, assuming leadership of a coalition government after an unexpected electoral setback that challenges his ability to maintain policy stability in the world’s most populous nation.

The oath of office was administered by President Droupadi Murmu during a grand ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi’s presidential palace.

The event was attended by thousands of dignitaries, including leaders from seven regional countries, Bollywood stars, and industrialists.

Modi, 73, who began his political journey with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), joins Jawaharlal Nehru as the only other leader to serve three consecutive terms as prime minister since India’s independence.

Unlike his previous terms, which were marked by a BJP majority, Modi’s third term is supported by a coalition of 14 regional parties within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

This coalition outcome marks a significant shift for Modi, as pre-election surveys and exit polls had predicted a stronger BJP showing.

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Analysts interpret the results as a voter reaction to domestic issues such as job scarcity, high prices, low incomes, and religious tensions, which appeared to have curbed Modi’s once unassailable popularity.

During his tenure as Gujarat’s chief minister from 2001 to 2014, Modi enjoyed decisive majorities, enabling assertive governance.

However, his new term as prime minister is expected to require adept coalition management to navigate diverse regional interests and a more assertive opposition.

Economic analysts are concerned that the fiscal balance of the world’s fastest-growing economy could be strained by demands for increased development funds from states governed by NDA partners and potential BJP efforts to boost welfare spending to regain voter support.

In contrast to his campaign, which featured strong religious rhetoric and critiques of the opposition’s alleged favoritism towards India’s 200 million Muslims, Modi adopted a conciliatory tone following the election results.

“We have won the majority … but to run the country it is unanimity that is crucial … we will strive for unanimity,” he stated on Friday after the NDA officially confirmed his leadership of the coalition.

Modi’s ability to foster unity within the coalition and address the socio-economic challenges facing India will be crucial in determining the success of his historic third term.

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