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HYDERABAD, India: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be sworn in for a record-equalling third term on June 8 after key allies pledged their continued support, a day after a humiliating election verdict that saw his party lose its majority in parliament.
Modi, a populist who has dominated Indian politics since coming to power in 2014, will for the first time need the support of regional allies whose loyalties have fluctuated over the years, potentially complicating the government’s reform agenda.
On Wednesday, two allies in his National Democratic Alliance coalition, the Telugu Desam Party, a key regional player in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, and the Janata Dal (United), which rules the northern state of Bihar, pledged their support.
“We are with the NDA, I will attend a meeting in Delhi today,” Chandrababu Naidu, TDP leader, told reporters, referring to a meeting of the BJP-led alliance scheduled to be held later in the day.
Modi tendered his resignation to President Droupadi Murmu on Wednesday after the federal cabinet met and recommended the dissolution of parliament, the first of several constitutional formalities before Modi can form a new government.
Modi and his new cabinet are expected to be sworn in on Saturday, local media reported.
The NDA won 293 seats in the 543-member lower house of parliament, more than the 272 required to form a government.

Modi’s BJP alone won 240 seats, a weakened verdict that could slow India’s fiscal tightening, ratings agency Moody’s said.
Both regional allies, the TDP and the JD-(U), are seen as pragmatists on economic policy, but the new Modi government will likely have to find money to finance more spending on social welfare projects in their respective states.
A weakened majority for Modi’s alliance could pose a challenge to more ambitious elements of the government’s reform agenda, ratings agency Fitch said.
However, he added: “Despite the narrow majority, we expect broad policy continuity to hold, with the government maintaining its focus on its capital investment, ease of doing business measures and gradual fiscal consolidation.”
Elections that are closer to expectations should increase the chances of productive reforms, the country’s chief economic adviser said on Wednesday.

THE COUNTRYSIDE
With the party losing most of its strength in the countryside, investors say land and labor reforms that were expected to unlock value and growth are likely to fall flat.
Newspapers reported that Modi’s aura had dimmed, with an Indian Express banner headline reading: “India gives NDA third term, message to Modi.”
In the latter stages of the campaign, Modi sought to restore his appeal to India’s Hindu majority and accused the opposition of favoring minority Muslims.
But without a majority of his own, some of his Hindu-nationalist BJP’s policies, such as a uniform civil code for all faiths opposed by some Muslims, are likely to be sidelined, with Modi’s regional allies seen as more accommodating to minorities.
The BJP lost heavily in the two states that send the most MPs to parliament, its northern stronghold of Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 seats, and the western state of Maharashtra, which sends 48 members to the lower house.
In Uttar Pradesh, the party lost nearly half its seats, down to 33 from 62 in 2019, while in Maharashtra, India’s richest state that includes financial powerhouse Mumbai, it fell to just under nine seats from the previous 23 seats.
Modi’s own victory in his seat of Varanasi, located in Uttar Pradesh and considered one of the holiest cities for Hindus, was muted, with his lead shrinking from nearly 500,000 votes in the last general election in 2019 to just over 150,000.
But this reduced victory may not necessarily mean a paralysis of reforms, Arvind Panagariya, chairman of the government’s finance council, said in an editorial in the Economic Times.
“Despite the reduced majority in the parliament, the necessary reforms are completely feasible. Ensuring sustainable growth at an accelerated pace can only strengthen the government in the years to come,” he said.
The INDIA opposition alliance led by Rahul Gandhi’s centrist Congress Party won 230 seats, more than predicted. The Congress alone won 99, almost double the 52 in 2019 – a surprising jump that should strengthen Gandhi’s position.
The INDIA alliance is also expected to meet in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss future steps.

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