Modi to be sworn in as India's new PM

Modi to be sworn in as India's new PM
Narendra Modi.

NEW DELHI - Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi will be sworn in as India's new prime minister on Monday in a ceremony to be attended by arch rival Pakistan's premier for the first time in the two nations' history.

The 63-year-old hardliner won a landslide election victory, handing him a powerful mandate to revive India's stagnant economy and implement more assertive foreign policy after 10 years of left-leaning Congress party rule.

Modi, leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, invited Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to Monday's ceremony in a first bold step aimed at mending strained ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Sharif, who has hailed Modi's "impressive victory", accepted the invite which was extended to all heads of government from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which includes Pakistan.

"Great having leaders from SAARC nations & Mauritius join us during the ceremony. Their presence will make the occasion more memorable," Modi said in a tweet on Sunday.

Modi, the son of a tea-stall owner, secured the biggest majority in 30 years at the election, trouncing the scandal-plagued Congress on a promise of reviving manufacturing and investment to create millions of jobs.

His pledge to overhaul the flagging economy won over voters, along with his rags-to-riches story and reputation as a clean and efficient chief minister of prosperous western Gujarat state.

Critics claimed Modi would favour the Hindu majority at the expense of the country's 150 million Muslims and other religious minorities, but the warnings failed to dent his rise.

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