Thousands mob Modi as election race starts in sacred city

Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi waves to his supporters as he arrives to file his nomination papers for the general elections in the northern Indian city of Varanasi

Narendra Modi received a hero’s welcome from thousands of orange-clad supporters as he launched his election campaign on Thursday in the religious city of Varanasi, a show of strength for the Hindu nationalist tipped to be prime minister.

India is halfway through the world’s largest-ever election, in which 815 million people are eligible to vote over 10 stages. Modi will stand for the parliamentary seat of the Ganges river city of Varanasi on May 12, four days before results are due.

One of the world’s oldest inhabited cities and a center for Hindus who come to wash away their sins in the sacred river, Varanasi should give Modi an easy win…

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