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Indian leader Narendra Modi was sworn in for 3rd term as prime minister

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

India, where Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister Sunday for a rare third term leading the world's largest democracy - but this time Modi leads a coalition government because his party failed to get a majority in Parliament. NPR's Diaa Hadid has this report.

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DIAA HADID, BYLINE: President Droupadi Murmu oversaw the twilight ceremony that came after a sweltering summer's day in the Indian capital New Delhi.

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HADID: The prime minister Narendra Modi made history being elected to three consecutive terms in office. The last person to do that was Jawaharlal Nehru, one of India's founding fathers. But Modi's vow that he'd win a supermajority that would have allowed him to reshape the Indian state that Nehru created - that was dashed. Modi's party, known as the BJP, didn't clear a simple majority after election results were tallied last Tuesday. Analysts say, Indians voted on the economy with many struggling since the pandemic.

The results were also a cautious relief to many in India's largest minority of 200 million people - Muslims. They were often the target of hateful comments by the Hindu Nationalist BJP. That includes the Prime Minister Modi, who described them as infiltrators. Now that Modi's Hindu Nationalist BJP Party must accommodate more secular, pragmatic allies. Civil rights activists say, many Indian Muslims feel like they've got breathing space.

Now Modi heads a coalition, and the leaders of two allied parties are now kingmakers who could unravel his government. News media are already scrutinizing the moves of his allies, and who is getting what post.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: We've got information that we're breaking to you first and exclusive here. Seventy-two ministers are going to be sworn in today.

HADID: Some analysts say this coalition government might be the best possible outcome for India - Modi, an experienced leader at the helm, but with his most authoritarian tendencies curbed by his coalition. Now, the question remains. Will Modi handle a coalition as deftly as he ruled for a decade? With his party in majority, India is waiting and watching.

Diaa Hadid, NPR News, Mumbai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Diaa Hadid chiefly covers Pakistan and Afghanistan for NPR News. She is based in NPR's bureau in Islamabad. There, Hadid and her team were awarded a Murrow in 2019 for hard news for their story on why abortion rates in Pakistan are among the highest in the world.