India's Modi retreats to meditate as marathon election nears end

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is waiting out the last round of India's elections at a memorial to a Hindu spiritual leader, where he will remain in silent meditation as millions cast the final votes in polls he is expected to win.

Modi arrived at the Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial in southern India on Thursday and is not expected to emerge until late Saturday – by which time the remaining 57 constituencies should have finished voting for their representatives in the Indian parliament.

Saturday's polling is the seventh and final leg of a staggered general election that began on 19 April.

Results from all rounds are due on 4 June, with the prime minister's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is predicted to clinch a majority for the third time in a row.

In a symbolic move, Modi is spending the final hours of the vote at a mid-sea retreat dedicated to 19th-century spiritual leader and social reformer Vivekananda, who supposedly attainted enlightenment there in 1892.

Surrounded by police and armed ships, Modi went into meditation at 7pm on Thursday and will break his silence after 48 hours, party members told RFI.

Strategic choice

Analysts say Modi’s choice to retire to southern Tamil Nadu state was strategic, as the BJP has so far struggled to make a dent in India's south.

But his rivals alleged the high-profile spiritual exercise was actually aimed at voters in Modi's northern constituency of Varanasi, who will decide on Saturday whether to return him to parliament for a third term.

He added: "The nation must keep a close watch."

Read more on RFI English

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