søndag 19. mai 2019

For Modi, India's marathon election ends where it all began

The River Ganges, or the Ganga to Indians, is one of Hinduism's most sacred waterways. Considered the personification of goddess Ganga, it is worshiped by millions of the faithful. It flows through Varanasi, one of Hinduism's holiest sites and among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Millions of pilgrims flock to its temples and ghats -- or riverbank -- every year.

It is also politically significant. When Narendra Modi, then a state-level leader for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), decided to seek national office in 2014, he chose the ancient city as his constituency. "I feel Ma Ganga (Mother Ganges) has called me," Modi said in 2014. "I feel like a child who has returned to his mother's lap." 
Varanasi is also the stage for the finale of India's elections -- the largest the world has ever seen -- as polling opens there on Sunday, four days before results are announced. In a speech on Tuesday, Modi reiterated his 2014 message to the people of Varanasi ahead of voting.