20240514 modi
Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Image Credit: AFP

Varanasi, India: India Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday formally submitted his candidacy to recontest the parliamentary seat for the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in a general election he is widely expected to win.

The marathon six-week poll concludes next month, and the 73-year-old premier used the election formality as a campaign event that paid deference to the country's majority faith.

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Varanasi is the spiritual capital of Hinduism, where devotees from around India come to cremate deceased loved ones by the Ganges river, and the premier has represented the city since sweeping to power a decade ago.

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

Footage showed the premier handing over his candidacy paperwork, flanked by a Hindu mystic.

"It's our good fortune that Modi represents our constituency of Varanasi," devout Hindu and farmer Jitendra Singh Kumar, 52, told AFP while waiting for the leader to emerge.

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

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

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