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Modi set to be formally elected as alliance leader as India coalition talks progress

NEW DELHI — Newly elected lawmakers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's National Democratic Alliance (NDA) arrived in New Delhi on Friday (June 7) for their first meeting at which he will be formally elected as their leader, ahead of presenting his claim to form a new coalition government.

Although Modi will become prime minister for a record-equalling third consecutive term, this is the first time his Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has needed regional parties for support to form the government.

The BJP, which enjoyed a handsome majority in the previous two terms, secured only 240 seats, way behind the 272 mark needed to form a government in its own right.

The NDA won 293 seats in the 543-member lower house of parliament and the INDIA alliance led by Rahul Gandhi's centrist Congress party won over 230 seats, more than forecast.

Indian media has reported that Modi's allies, mainly the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Janata Dal (United), are eyeing the post of the speaker in the lower house while the BJP is expected to retain four key ministries — foreign affairs, defence, interior and finance.

The coalition negotiations are a throwback to an era before 2014 — when Modi swept to power with an outright BJP majority — in which alliance partners haggled for positions and benefits.

After meeting party lawmakers early on Friday, Modi will attend a meeting of the NDA where he will be formally elected as the leader.

He is scheduled to meet President Droupadi Murmu later on Friday to stake his claim to form a government, an NDA leader told Reuters.

The swearing-in ceremony for the new government with Modi as prime minister is expected to take place on Sunday.

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