Coalition beckons in India too

Henry

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, is expected to present a coalition agreement to the president on Friday after an unexpected narrowly contested result forced his party to find allies to keep him in office.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been in power for the past decade but, contrary to expectations, failed to repeat its two previous majority victories.

The BJP had no choice but to quickly enter into talks with a 15-member coalition that agreed to give its parliamentary numbers to the BJP to govern.

“Modi will pres. Droupadi Murmu is expected to visit with allied party leaders on Friday for her formal approval to form the new government,” news agency Press Trust of India reported.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which supports Modi’s third-term ambitions, elected the 73-year-old prime minister as its leader on Wednesday.

The NDA controlled the parliament with 293 seats out of a total of 543 seats.

Modi’s party has not revealed what concessions have been made to its allies in exchange for their support, but several larger parties wanted ministerial portfolios.

Indian Express reported on Friday that the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh (the biggest BJP ally with 16 seats) will press for the revival of plans to build a new state capital.

The BJP’s second largest ally, the Janata Dal (United) party, from the state of Bihar, has meanwhile called for a review of a controversial army recruitment scheme. It was introduced by the government in 2022 to cut military spending.

Modi’s new confidence in “the minefield of coalition politics” means he faces a much tougher third term than initially expected, the Hindustan Times warned in his editorial on Thursday.

According to Indian media reports, Modi is likely to be sworn in as prime minister on Sunday.

Regional leaders including Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe will attend the ceremony.

On Tuesday, Modi maintained that the election results are a victory that ensures he will continue with his plans.

“Our third term will be one of great decisions and the country will write a new chapter of development,” Modi told a crowd of cheering supporters in the capital New Delhi after his victory.