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  /  Investing Analysis   /  Modi heads for two days of island meditation as Indian election nears end

Modi heads for two days of island meditation as Indian election nears end

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on his way to meditate inside an island shrine for two days to cap weeks of election campaigning – his latest public display of religiosity days after proclaiming he was sent by god.

India’s election is the world’s largest, a mammoth exercise in democracy that has taken place over six weeks. The final day of voting takes place on Saturday and results will be announced three days later.

Modi will visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari, a pilgrimage site off India’s southernmost tip, from May 30 to June 1, according to Indian state broadcaster DD News.

The site is where popular Hindu monk and philosopher Swami Vivekananda attained enlightenment.

Modi has twice before ended an election campaign with meditation. But he has recently been making increasingly grand displays of piety, to capitalize on Hindu-nationalist sentiment as he eyes a third consecutive five-year term in power.

In an interview last week with local news channel NDTV, Modi said: “I’m convinced that God has sent me for a purpose, and when that purpose is finished, my work will be done.”

“God doesn’t reveal his cards. He just keeps making me do things,” he continued.

India is constitutionally bound to secularism, but since assuming power in 2014 Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have promoted a strident brand of Hindu nationalism that has deepened religious divides.

When he first contested national elections a decade ago, Modi chose India’s spiritual capital Varanasi as his constituency, making the ancient city the perfect backdrop to meld his religious and political ambitions.

At the end of that campaign, Modi visited Pratapgad in the western state of Maharashtra, where the Hindu-led Maratha forces won a historic battle against the Mughal empire army in the 17th century.

Toward the end of the 2019 national elections, which he also won, Modi went to meditate in the revered Kedarnath shrine dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Shiva high in the Himalayas.

In January, just months before campaigning began, Modi consecrated the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, a controversial Hindu temple that was built on the site of a destroyed mosque, taking on a role typically reserved for priests.

In a country where about 80% of the population are followers of the polytheistic faith, critics say Modi’s brandishing of Hinduism has led to rising Islamophobia and persecution of the country’s more than 200 million Muslims.

Modi and the BJP have increasingly resorted to overtly Islamophobic language during his recent election speeches. In a controversial speech last month, Modi said that if the opposition wins, they would distribute the country’s wealth among “infiltrators” and “those who have more children,” in apparent reference to the Muslim community.

This post appeared first on cnn.com