FROM “Ab ki baar Modi sarkar” in 2014 to “Phir ek baar Modi sarkar” five years later, Narendra Modi kept his word as he was sworn in Prime Minister on Thursday, slipping into a second term as skilfully as the simple but well-crafted election slogans tied his two campaigns together. The 68-year-old BJP leader, who took oath against the magnificent backdrop of the Rashtrapati Bhawan with thousands gathered in the forecourt and millions watching on their television screens, is only the third Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to return for a second successive term with a full majority.
The focus shifts almost immediately from celebrations to the challenges faced by the man who powered his party to 303 seats in the Lok Sabha. There are expectations the Modi Government will usher in further economic reforms to complement initiatives like Goods and Services Tax to boost the economy. Modi on Thursday sealed his legacy as one of post-Independent India’s most powerful leader.
He will also face mounting expectations over the building of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, a movement that propelled the party to the national political centrestage in the 1990s. In what will be a delicate balancing act, the Prime Minister needs to, at the same time, allay apprehensions of the Muslim community in a bid to counter the feeling of alienation among a section of minorities in the last five years.
He blunted criticism with the punchline -- ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ (together with all, development for all) -- during his five-year long stint as Prime Minister. In an address to the newly-elected NDA MPs, Modi added “sabka vishwas”, seen as an effort to reach out to Muslims. With BJP highlighting national security as a core area of interest, Modi may have to walk the tightrope between normalising ties with Pakistan and also continue a tough approach in dealing with cross-border terrorism.