Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the oath of office as the Prime Minister of India for a second term at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday. Prime Minister Modi greeting the crowds.
Narendra Modi has been ceremonially sworn in for his second term as Prime Minister of India at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, following the massive electoral victory of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) at its lead. The poll result that saw 353 NDA members with 303 BJP Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha gives a new five-year term to Prime Minister Modi, who in the immediate post-election phase has indicated he seeks to change the substance of politics in his second term in office.
His victory in the polls was despite major failures of his BJP-led government to carry out many of the electoral promises given in the campaign for Modi’s first victory in 2014. The unemployment rate had risen very high and the agricultural sector was in great failure. There was corruption in governance and India had not gained the expected gains in economic growth. However, Modi was able to lead his party and its alliance to the resounding victory with his emphasis on national security, especially after the Pakistani terrorist attack in Kashmir, shortly before the poll campaign was launched, and the response of the Indian Security Forces to the Pakistani terrorist attacks. Narendra Modi was seen as the ‘Defender of India’ in a campaign that moved away from economics, agriculture, unemployment and other day-to-day issues of importance, to one of national security and protection of the national borders.
With this electoral victory, the larger political expectation was that Modi and the BJP, with the strong ties to powerful Hindu dominance organisations, would push forward the rising politics of Hindu nationalism. However, Narendra Modi has given indications of a new approach that recognizes the political importance of minorities, and especially the Muslims of India.
In his speech to the MPs of the new BJP-led government soon after election Modi made a major change with new outreach to the minorities in India, and especially to the Indian Muslims. “Minorities have been deceived in the country through an imaginary fear for the purpose of vote-bank politics”, he said, stressing on the “need to pierce this deception – to gain trust”. Emphasizing the need to bring the minorities within the wider political embrace he said: “Now we cannot see anyone as an outsider. Those who voted for us are ours. Those who severely opposed us, are also ours”.
Modi’s new emphasis on minorities is especially directed at the Muslim population of India, whose trust neither the BJP nor Modi have achieved while in government. There isn’t a single Muslim member in the 303 BJP MPs elected to the government. The new reach to the minorities, and especially the Muslims, was seen by Narendra Modi’s new addition “Sabka Vishvas” (trust of all) to his earlier political slogan “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” – ‘together with all, development of all’. Modi shows signs of moving to an all-embracing sense of leadership, and possibly away from the narrow and separatist politics of the strong Hindutva forces in his political ranks. Many see his call for the “Trust of All” has much to do with bringing India’s second-largest religious community – the nearly 200 million Muslims into the active political landscape. Modi has stated that even though elections are won on the principle of “Bahumat” – majority, a government can be run and the country can march ahead only on the principle of “Sarvamat” – consensus and cooperation of all. However, it is also noteworthy that his strongest pro-Hindu leaders of the BJP and its allies remain very close to Modi in his new leadership.
Political analysts see Modi’s new emphasis on gaining the support of minorities, and especially the Muslims has to do with Indian Foreign Policy realities too. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have been supportive of India and Modi in the recent confrontations with Pakistan, and there is a need for good relations with the Saudi and Gulf States for the anticipated economic progress of India. With all his wider diplomacy, the Prime Minister of Pakistan was not invited to Modi’s ceremonial swearing-in. Instead of the SAARC leadership, the invitees were from BIMSTEC - the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation - an international organisation of seven nations of South and South East Asia.
The elections to the European Parliament have not produced the expected populist surge that would have challenged the unity of the European Union. The populist forces had more of a ripple in the wider European vote, although the far right did make noticeable gains in some countries, but lost in most countries.
The strong showings of the far right came from Hungary, Italy and France. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz Party took more than half the national vote on strong anti-immigration policies, Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s Lega Party had a major draw of the Italian polls, and France’s Marine Le Pen’s National Rally narrowly topped the poll in the race, defeating French President Macron’s party. Interestingly, the traditional big parties in many European countries had losses, far from all of those votes going to the far-right or populist parties that claimed much popularity in the approach to the poll; they had to face the reality of increased support for the Greens and other pro-European forces doing well.
Nationalist and far-right parties will have more representation in the new European parliament than in any previous one. However, Italy’s Salvini has failed in the attempt to capitalize on a populist mood and bring a grand coalition of anti-immigrant and far-right parties. But a combination of personalities, policy differences on issues such as cooperation with Russia saw them fail, and the far-right parties are finding it hard to build a coherent bloc in the new European parliament.
The results of the European Poll have shown the increased fragmentation of the party systems in European countries. The big parties are fast being reduced, and what is seen as mainstream parties are now medium-sized and even small parties. There is a rise in anti-establishment parties with more emphasis on issues such as the Environment and Climate Change, as seen in the success of the Green parties.
The biggest change was seen in the United Kingdom, where the two major national parties – Conservatives and Labour - lost badly, while the newly formed Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage came on top with 29% of votes. The shows the continuing chaos in the Brexit related politics in the UK, with Theresa May announcing her resignation from the Conservative leadership on June 7, and the campaign on for a new party leader who will be the next prime minister. The elected UK members of the European Parliament will not take their seats if the UK leaves the EU before the first parliamentary session in June. The result of the UK-European poll shows the overall failure of Theresa May’s Brexit policy over the past three years, and the prevailing divisions within the UK in the exit from the EU.
US and Trump issues
As the tensions in the Gulf region gets tenser in the increasing confrontation between the United States and Iran, there is also rising calls for the impeachment of President Donald Trump by US Democrat Representatives and presidential candidates, after Special Counsel Robert Mueller made his first public remarks, on his report on the Trump presidential poll and alleged related Russian interference. Mueller has said his investigation had not exonerated Trump of obstruction of justice, contradicting the president's claims. He was tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He detailed 10 instances where Trump had possibly attempted to impede the investigation but said that charging the president with a crime was not an option for the special counsel.
“The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” he said, in what was seen as a reference to the ability of Congress to start an impeachment process.
Importantly, he also said that if his team had had confidence that Trump “clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so”.
But Mueller's remarks prompted three leading Democratic presidential hopefuls to join the chorus calling for impeachment, bringing the total to 10 of 23 declared candidates.
At the White House on Thursday morning, Trump said Mueller was “a totally conflicted person” and a “true Never Trumper”, referring to his Republican critics in the 2016 White House race.
He also said impeachment was a “dirty, filthy disgusting word” and the inquiry was “giant presidential harassment”.
Responding to Mueller's statement, House Speaker Ms Pelosi said: “The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who won a majority in the Knesset in April this year will have to face a fresh election after failing to form a coalition government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to face a fresh national election after his failure to form a coalition government, with a strong ally of his Likud Party.After the failure of the coalition move by the Prime Minister, the members of the Knesset voted to dissolve parliament. The new election will be held on September 17 this year.
Netanyahu was unable to reach a deal on a right-wing coalition following an impasse on a military conscription bill that governs exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students, in talks with former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose support in the talks became vital for Netanyahu and his Likud Party. This is the first time in Israel's history that a prime minister-designate has failed to form a coalition. The situation exposes the growing political weakness for the premier, with his political rivals aware of his vulnerability; and some see his decade in office may be entering its closing stages. Netanyahu - who is on course to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister in July - will now remain in power until September's vote.
He faces another challenge in the coming months in the form of possible fraud and bribery charges and has been accused of attempting to secure for himself immunity from prosecution. He is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensed favours to try to get more positive press coverage. Netanyahu denies all wrongdoing.
If he is indicted, the Supreme Court will determine whether he must resign.