Modi Secures Coalition Support, Handing Him Third Term in Power

(Bloomberg) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won crucial backing from two key allies in his coalition, allowing him to form a government and extend his decade in power.

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Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party was forced into coalition talks following the BJP’s loss of its majority in parliamentary elections. Leaders of the National Democratic Alliance, including Nitish Kumar of Janata Dal (United) and N. Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party, met Wednesday in New Delhi to thrash out an agreement and give its backing to the coalition.

Modi was “unanimously elected as the leader of the NDA,” the BJP said in a post Wednesday on social media platform X.

Spokespeople for both the JD(U) and TDP confirmed by phone they gave letters of support to the BJP to help form a coalition government.

Leaders of the two key parties have been notoriously unreliable in the past, switching alliances often.

Since taking office in 2014, Modi hasn’t had to share power in the government, and will likely have to make concessions to alliance partners, such as offering them important cabinet positions, to retain their support. It wasn’t immediately clear on Wednesday what demands were made by the two leaders and to what the BJP agreed in order to secure their support.

A weak Modi-led coalition government will likely make it difficult for him to push through tough economic reforms or further his Hindu nationalist agenda. Many of the BJP’s alliance partners don’t share the Hindu nationalist views that are core to the BJP agenda.

Official results Tuesday showed the BJP-led coalition secured enough seats to form a government if it sticks together, although the party remained short of the 272-seat majority on its own.

Before voting kicked off on April 19, the prime minister had boldly predicted that his alliance would win a whopping 400 seats. Exit polls released over the weekend showed Modi would coast to an easy victory in the marathon, six-week election.

The opposition alliance led by the Indian National Congress is also set to meet Wednesday evening to shore up support with its partners, and potentially find a path toward forming its own government.

The Congress party had been reaching out to TDP for talks, but the party had made it clear joining the alliance wouldn’t be viable, Vijaya Kumar Neelayapalem, a TDP spokesperson, said by phone.

--With assistance from Swati Gupta, Santosh Kumar, Abhijit Roy Chowdhury and Adrian Leung.

(Updates with comments from party spokespeople in fourth paragraph.)

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