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India’s president inaugurates newly elected parliament and sets out economic reforms as a key agenda

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s president inaugurated a new parliament on Thursday after national elections, listing the priorities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in coming years, including fast-tracking economic reforms and boosting small and medium-size enterprises to create jobs.

President Draupadi Murmu said India’s economy grew the fastest among the world’s major nations at an average of 8% over the past four years.

The International Monetary Fund has put India’s growth forecast at 6.8% for 2024-25.

Modi’s government was elected to a record third term despite failing to win a majority on its own. Modi is dependent on his Hindu nationalist party’s coalition partners to govern the country for another five years.

The government will present its 2024-25 budget next month, setting out its vision of making India a developed country by 2047, Murmu said in a speech to the lawmakers.

In India, the presidency is largely a ceremonial position and the prime minister governs the country.

The new parliament includes some unexpected winners, including Sikh separatist leader Amritpal Singh and Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa, the son of one of the assassins of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. They were elected from northern Punjab state.

Punjab suffered a bloody insurgency in the 1980s that led to Gandhi’s killing by her Sikh bodyguards at her official residence in New Delhi. Her assassination triggered bloody rioting by her Hindu supporters against Sikhs in northern India.

Another new lawmaker is Sheikh Abdul Rashid from Indian-controlled Kashmir. He was arrested in 2019 on terror-funding charges and is currently in jail.

Rashid’s Awami Ittehad Party has petitioned a Delhi court to allow him to participate the oath-taking