To Be Continued

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for a rare third term this week, following a sobering election result that saw his once-dominant Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lose its majority in the lower house and raised questions about his new coalition government’s ability to govern as before, the Washington Post reported.

On Sunday, President Droupadi Murmu swore in the Hindu nationalist leader for another five-year term as prime minister – the second Indian politician to achieve this feat after Jawaharlal Nehru, one of India’s founding fathers.

During the swearing-in ceremony, Modi unveiled the 71-member council of ministers composed of BJP politicians and members of his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition. Details of the ministerial appointments are expected in the coming days, prompting questions about who will secure crucial security and economic posts.

Modi’s third term comes after India’s massive parliamentary elections saw the BJP lose its majority in the lower house of legislature, forcing him to rely on his coalition partners.

The BJP secured only 240 seats, far below the 272-seat threshold needed for a majority in the lower house.

Analysts suggested that the new coalition government will have a “veneer of continuity,” noting that Modi’s third term will not be very different from his previous two.

Still, the election results marked the start of an uncertain period for Modi and the BJP, who have dominated Indian politics since they came to power in 2014.

Observers explained that the once-battered opposition made significant gains after campaigning on issues of high unemployment, inflation and complaints from India’s rural voters, Sky News added.

Inequality also remains high in the country, with the Paris-based World Inequalities Lab reporting that the top one percent of India’s population controls 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.

At the same time, Modi has been accused of favoring the country’s Hindu majority at the expense of the Muslim minority: He escalated anti-Muslim rhetoric during the campaign. But following the election results, he appealed to his coalition partners by saying that the new government would represent all Indians.

Political analysts told the Post they are watching to see if Modi’s allies will retain control over key agencies, such as law enforcement, which opposition parties claim have been misused for the BJP’s political aims.

Another focus is whether NDA coalition members will seek to fill the role of parliamentary speaker, allowing potential defections to the opposition without censure, thus leveraging their power over the BJP.

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