First budget test of Modi’s reform mettle

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Indian PM Modi walks in front of a picture of former Indian PM Vajpayee after a news conference in New Delhi

By Frank Jack Daniel NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces the first major test of his reform credentials on Thursday, when his fresh-faced government presents its maiden budget amid early doubts about his willingness to make unpopular decisions. Modi, 63, won a landslide general election victory in May with a pledge to boost growth and create jobs for the 1 million people who enter India’s workforce every month. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s promises of bold budget decisions and broadsides against the “mindless populism” of his left-of-centre predecessors have proved a hit with investors, helping the benchmark BSE stock index to a record high last week. The government has tried to keep rural voters sweet by extending a temporary subsidy for sugar mills, benefiting farmers in Maharashtra, where Modi’s BJP hopes to consolidate its strength in elections later this year.


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