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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi prays at Kashi Vishwanath Temple after a roadshow in Varanasi, India, Monday, May 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar)

International

Modi Files Candidacy for Indian Election in Hindu Sacred City

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has formally submitted his candidacy to seek re-election for the parliamentary seat representing the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in the general election, widely anticipated to secure his victory.

Upon his arrival to file his nomination on Tuesday, hundreds of supporters gathered outside a local government office to greet Modi. In footage captured, the premier was seen submitting his candidacy paperwork, accompanied by a Hindu mystic.

The marathon six-week poll is set to conclude next month, and the 73-year-old premier utilized the election formality as a campaign event that honored the predominant faith of the country.

Varanasi, known as the spiritual capital of Hinduism, holds significance as a place where devotees from across India come to perform cremation rituals for their loved ones by the Ganges river. Modi has represented the city since assuming power a decade ago.

“It’s our good fortune that Modi represents our constituency of Varanasi,” remarked devout Hindu and farmer Jitendra Singh Kumar, 52, while awaiting the leader’s emergence. “He is like a God to the people of Varanasi. He thinks about the country first, unlike other politicians.”

Modi, whose premiership has prominently featured acts of religious worship, spent the morning visiting temples and offering prayers at the banks of the Ganges.

‘Not wanted’

Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are widely anticipated to emerge victorious in this year’s election, spanning six weeks to alleviate the significant logistical challenges of conducting the democratic process in the world’s most populous nation.

Varanasi, slated as one of the final constituencies to cast their votes on June 1, anticipates the announcement of results three days later.

Throughout the ongoing voting period, Modi has delivered a series of forceful remarks against India’s Muslim minority, seemingly aimed at rallying support.

In public addresses, he has labeled Muslims as “infiltrators” and “those who have more children,” eliciting condemnation from opposition figures and sparking complaints to India’s election commission.

Despite India’s officially secular constitution, the rise of Modi’s Hindu-nationalist politics has heightened apprehensions among Muslims in the country.

“We feel marginalized in this country,” expressed Shauqat Mohamed, proprietor of a tea shop in the city. “When the country’s leader speaks of us disparagingly, what more can we expect?” remarked the 41-year-old.

“We must come to terms with our circumstances and move forward.”

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