India PM Modi stays silent on key priorities

India PM Modi stays silent on key priorities
India's Prime Minister Modi signs a register after taking his oath at the presidential palace in New Delhi.

NEW DELHI - India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi instructed top ministers Thursday to prepare their agendas for the first 100 days but did not reveal which of the country's many problems would be tackled first.

The pro-business leader was sworn in as prime minister on Monday armed with a powerful mandate to reform the ailing economy after his right-wing Hindu nationalist party won a landslide election victory.

Speculation has been mounting about what the Modi government would grasp first given the scale of India's economic problems, including creaking infrastructure, energy shortages, high inflation and poor public finances.

After attending a cabinet meeting chaired by Modi on Thursday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu refused to say what was top of the list amid sky-high expectations.

"Containing inflation is an obvious priority for the government," Naidu told reporters when repeatedly pressed about the government's focus.

"All sectors are a priority (for the prime minister) and expectations are high," Naidu said, adding Modi had reminded ministers of the need for good governance and efficient implementation of policies.

Parliament will sit from June 4 for the first time since the election to swear in new lawmakers and select a speaker of the house for the coming sessions, Naidu said after the cabinet meeting.

In his first foreign policy test, Modi held landmark talks on Tuesday with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, and other South Asian leaders whom he invited to his inauguration.

He called for action against anti-India militant groups in Pakistan and expressed hopes trade could bring the nuclear-armed rivals together.

At Modi's first cabinet meeting late on Tuesday, his administration announced a special investigation team to track illicit funds or "black money" in a sign it was serious about its campaign pledge to curb rampant graft.

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