Politics – India: Modi introduces new 71-member government team

First cabinet meeting Image: AFP

About a week and a half after the end of the general elections in India, the old and new Prime Minister Modi introduced his cabinet. He chaired the first meeting of the 71-member government team in New Delhi.

About a week and a half after the end of the general elections in India, the old and new Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced his cabinet. On Monday, Modi chaired the first meeting of the 71-member government team. Eleven members are members of the new coalition of Hindu nationalist parties, the BJP. As his first official act after being reappointed, Modi approved financial aid for India's 93 million farmers.

Modi-led BJP lost its absolute majority in parliamentary elections for the first time in ten years. The party won 240 parliamentary seats – 32 fewer than needed to gain an absolute majority. Modi had to hold short-term coalition talks with the 293-seat NDA alliance, ultimately assuring Modi of his support.

One of the ministries that will be Modi's coalition partner is the civil aviation department, which will later be taken over by Kinjarapu Rammohan Naidu of the regional party TDP, the BJP's most influential alliance partner. As many as five of the 30 most important ministries fell into the hands of BJP allies.

Meanwhile, several key ministries remain in the hands of the BJP leadership – including the defense, home, transport, finance and foreign ministries. BJP party leader Jagat Prakash became health minister.

Unlike the last two governments, which were formed by the BJP with an absolute majority in parliament, this time there are no Muslim MPs represented in the cabinet. In his final decade in power, Modi has emerged as an aggressive representative of India's Hindu majority – which has sparked concerns, among others, among the Muslim minority of more than 200 million.

India's six-week general election, which saw more than 968 million people vote, ended on June 1.

Experts believe that the main reason for the BJP's poor performance is unemployment in the world's most populous country. The main opposition party, the Congress Party, received almost double the vote compared to the election five years ago and won 99 seats.

According to observers, the newly elected parliament is scheduled to hold its constituent assembly next week.


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