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Modi under mounting pressure to reshape economy

Indian prime minister haunted by deficit, sour loans, new tax regime

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi   © Reuters

NEW DELHI -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement Monday of a $2.5 billion program to take electricity to 40 million of India's poorest households bore all the hallmarks of his recent economic policies. Two-thirds of the way into his five-year term, Modi is pushing a pro-poor, populist agenda that could win votes for his Bharatiya Janata Party in general elections due by May 2019.

But analysts warn that Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are in danger of fiscal profligacy. There are strong signals already that the two men, fighting to keep the economy's wheels turning despite a sharp slowdown, are abandoning their pledge to bring the fiscal deficit down to 3.2% of gross domestic product in the fiscal year ending March.

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