Friday, May 22, 2009

India's new government sworn in

The new government of India, Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, has taken the oath of office in the capital, Delhi.

Mr. Singh is supported for a second time, after only the second PM Jawaharlal Nehru to be returned to power after a five-year term.

The Congress party won a decisive mandate in the recent polls, and Mr. Singh became politically stronger.

Congress has made the fight against the effects of the global economic crisis and ensure the growth of its main priorities.

The votes were counted late last week, after India marathon five-phase general elections, the Congress and its allies had 262 seats in parliament, compared to the alliance led by the BJP 158.

Pakistan's message

Mr Singh and a 19-member cabinet was sworn in to office of President of India Pratibha Patil at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace in Delhi.

Congress veterans Pranab Mukherjee, AK Antony, P Chidambaram were among those taking the oath.

Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee, who are among the main partners of the alliance, are also in the cabinet.

The swearing in will be followed in the coming days by announcements of other ministers.

"This expansion will give the representation of parties allies," the prime minister's office said.

On Friday, the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari has sent a message congratulating the Congress.

"May I take this opportunity to assure you that Pakistan remains committed to peace and prosperity in South Asia and will continue to work with India to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries and a peaceful fairly. "

Difficult negotiations

Economic Analyst of India Paranjoy Guha Thakurta said that the challenge for the government of Mr Singh will meet the aspirations of India and the youth of the middle class moving up while the expansion of safety nets net for the poor, especially those living in rural areas.

But he said that the mandate of the Congress is strong, with the weakening of parties from left and right.

In recent days, Mr. Singh and the leader of his Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, the negotiation has been difficult with their electoral allies on the distribution of ministerial posts.

On Thursday, the DMK left the alliance after talks failed. Reports said DMK chief M Karunanidhi was not satisfied with the number of ministerial posts offered.

The Tamil Nadu-party said it continues to support the coalition from outside.

The Congress coalition said it had the support of 274 legislators, before the announcement of the DMK, two more than needed for a parliamentary majority.

With external support, the coalition said it had 322 members of the Lower House of Parliament support it.

BBC Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says many thought that, during his first term, Mr. Singh is difficult to resist political pressure demanding allies.

But throughout his career, says our correspondent, Mr. Singh has shown an ability to survive in his business and more criticism.