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When Modi leads the coalition government

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With the swearing-in of a 71-member cabinet, including 30 with cabinet rank, 5 deputy ministers of state with independent charge and 36 as ministers of state, the third term of the National Democratic Front government led by Narendra Damodardas Modi at the center has begun. After the BJP failing to win a majority in the parliamentary elections by itself, Modi has formed his third government in a coalition with Andhra Pradesh's N. Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United (JDU). Modi is the first leader since India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to become Prime Minister for a third time in a row, the only difference being that Nehru ruled with absolute majority of his own party, the Indian National Congress, all three times. On the other hand, Narendra Modi held the post of Chief Minister before and later became Prime Minister. Each time, he held power as the leader of the majority party. Therefore, the country is curiously watching how Modi's transition in leadership style will take place. The factor to watch is the strength of two powerful political leaders who have laid the foundations and frameworks of the coalition. Observers have assessed that the Prime Minister is preparing to abandon the narrative of self-praise and get used to the coalition etiquette.

Modi has tried to retain the old warhorses during the formation of the cabinet to make sure that the BJP is firmly on its own feet and to show that the third term is a continuation or even better than the first and second terms. At the same time, the BJP is sending a message that it will not lose its prestige even while embracing the coalition by not giving away the core portfolios and the Speaker's post, which became the strength and reserve of the last two administrations, to its allies. BJP's capital will be the same weapons that have been used to tame internal and external opponents, including the position of Speaker when it comes to making plans to convert the minority government into a majority. The Modi-Amit Shah duo doesn't have to learn from P.V. Narasimha Rao who came to power in 1991 with 240 MPs and used the formula 'the government belongs to the party of Speaker.' It has been tried enough in the last ten years with several rise and fall involving governors and Speakers in various states including Maharashtra and Goa. Political games based on the strength of allies may become more vigorous. However, things will not be easy like before when the BJP had a considerable majority. It will be NDA's question of prestige to win assembly elections in the states of Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Haryana this year and early next year in Delhi and Bihar in the presence of a strong opposition. This means that the coalition doesn't have much time left to deal with issues like the uniform civil code, Agnipath, caste census, one state one election, and the special status demanded by Andhra and Bihar.

Also read: TDP, JD(U) are vipers, what Modi did is ‘Vinash Kaale Vipreet Buddhi’: Swamy

Another hurdle for the NDA is the non-acceptance by key allies of the BJP's anti-Muslim politics, which the party has relied on, believing that it can reap victory by sowing hatred. Modi and BJP, who campaigned against Muslim reservation, are yet to digest the TDP, which implemented four percent reservation. On the other hand, allies will suffer in their own turf for joining hands with a Modi getting more aggressive pushing ahead against Muslims. The lack of representation of Muslims in the new cabinet has already become a point of discussion. It is pointed out that this is the first time in the history of the country that a Union Cabinet has taken office without a Muslim representative. Even in the outgoing Modi government, the vacancy was not filled after the resignation of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, whose Rajya Sabha term ended. No Muslim candidate from NDA has indeed won in the 18th Lok Sabha (note that BJP fielded only one Muslim candidate in the entire country). However, there is a practice of giving representation in the cabinet from regions and sections where there are no MPs who have won. That is how the Christian representation was confirmed in this ministry itself. Although we are hearing comforting words about the development of another cabinet, going by the nature and method of the anti-Muslim election campaign led by Modi, Muslim consideration is likely to remain a mirage. The new NDA government under the leadership of Modi has taken office taking an oath to do justice to all sections of people without fear, favor, or hatred.The forward march of not only the coalition and government, but of the entire country depends on who and how Narendra Modi - who termed the NDA as a cross section of India's plurality - will absorb in its march.

Also read: "Sometimes governments last only a day," says Mamata Banerjee

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TAGS:EditorialModi GovernmentModi 3.0coalition ministry
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