India election 2019: PM Narendra Modi takes spiritual break

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Mr Modi meditated at a holy cave in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a spiritual break on the eve of the final day of voting in the country’s general election.

In a series of tweeted images, Mr Modi, 68, is seen meditating while wrapped in an orange robe at a holy cave located at a famous Himalayan pilgrimage site.

He visited the revered Kedarnath shrine dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Shiva.

Some 900 million people were eligible to take part in the marathon ballot, with results due on 23 May.

The photo opportunity, taken in the northern state of Uttarakhand, was likely an effort to appeal to the Hindu majority as voting draws to a close.

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Mr Modi had to request special permission from the national poll watchdog for the trip as election rules prohibit any campaigning 48 hours before voting, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said.

The prime minister’s hectic campaign, which started in March, has seen him address three rallies a day on average.

“PM Modi addressed 142 public rallies, held four roadshows and according to conservative estimates he directly addressed about 15 million people at these rallies,” president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Amit Shah, said on Friday.

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Mr Modi’s main rival is Rahul Gandhi, 48, of the Congress party, the scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

The two parties have thrown almost daily jibes at each other, accusing one another of corruption, nepotism and fake nationalism.