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Modi is a candidate for the elections in India in the holy Hindu city | National

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday formally filed his candidacy to recontest the parliamentary seat of the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in the general election he is expected to win.

The six-week survey ends next month, and the 73-year-old prime minister used the election formality as a campaign event showing respect for the country’s majority faith.

Varanasi is the spiritual capital of Hinduism, where devotees from all over India come to cremate deceased loved ones on the Ganges River, and the prime minister has represented the city since he came to power a decade ago.

Hundreds of supporters had gathered outside a local government office to greet Modi as he arrived to file his nomination.

Footage showed the prime minister handing over his candidacy papers, flanked by a Hindu mystic.

“It is our happiness that Modi represents our constituency Varanasi,” devout Hindu and farmer Jitendra Singh Kumar, 52, told AFP as he waited for the leader to appear.

“He is like a God to the people of Varanasi. He thinks of the country first, unlike other politicians.”

Modi, who has made religious worship a central part of his premiership, had spent the morning visiting temples and offering prayers on the banks of the Ganges.

Tens of thousands of supporters lined the streets of Varanasi to greet Modi as he arrived in the city on Monday atop a flatbed truck, waving to the crowds from a flatbed truck as loudspeakers blared devotional songs.

Many along the roadside waved saffron flags bearing the emblem of his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and threw marigold flowers at the procession as it passed by.


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– ‘Not wanted’ –

Modi and the BJP are widely expected to win this year’s elections, which will be held in six weeks to ease the immense logistical burden of organizing the democratic exercise in the world’s most populous country.

Varanasi is one of the last constituencies to vote on June 1; the count and results are expected three days later.

Since voting began last month, Modi has made a number of sharp comments against India’s Muslim minority of more than 200 million, in an apparent bid to drum up support.

He has called Muslims “infiltrators” and “those who have more children” in public speeches, prompting condemnation from opposition politicians and complaints to India’s Election Commission.

The rise of Modi’s Hindu nationalist politics, despite India’s officially secular constitution, has increasingly worried the country’s Muslims.

“We get the feeling that we are not wanted in this country,” Shauqat Mohamed, who runs a tea shop in the city, told aFP.

“If the prime minister of the country speaks about us in disparaging terms, what else can we expect?” the 41-year-old added.

“We have to accept our fate and move on.”

abh/gle/mca