- Nitish Kumar, Uddhav Thackeray among the NDA leaders who were present
- PM addressed BJP workers, visited a temple before filing his nomination
- In 2014 polls, PM Modi defeated Arvind Kejriwal and Ajay Rai in Varanasi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi filed nomination papers to contest from Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi in the national election in which he is fighting for a second term in power. A "Dom Raja" who helps cremate bodies and a principal of a women's college were among his proposers for the nomination, which marked the finale of a two-day carnival that featured allies, chief ministers and ministers.
"Thank you bhaiya," PM Modi was heard saying as he left the office of the District Magistrate, who meticulously scrutinised his election papers for about half an hour.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvam and M Thambidurai and BJP leaders like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari were in a room nearby as PM Modi filed his election documents.
Earlier today, PM Modi addressed thousands of party workers and visited the Kal Bhairav temple before his SUV made its way through narrow lanes to the office where he would complete the paperwork. He promised to return to Varanasi "to thank the city" after the election.
In 44-degree heat, people waved at the convoy from balconies, rooftops and the roadside, showering rose petals on his SUV.
A tourist bus in the convoy ferried allies and top ministers to the nomination centre.
On Thursday, PM Modi took out a 7-km roadshow in the bustling temple town, waving at supporters from the sunroof of his SUV as he drove by ancient buildings and ghats.
The roadshow ended at the Dashashwamedh Ghat, where the Prime Minister attended the evening aarti on the banks of the river Ganga.
Speaking at a meeting after the roadshow, the PM underlined his party's national security pitch, saying the government had dealt effectively with terrorism. In an apparent reference to the Balakot air strikes after Pakistan-based terrorists killed over 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama in February, PM Modi said the world now backed India in its fight against terror.
It is virtually a no-contest for PM Modi in Varanasi. After weeks of speculation that the Congress would field Priyanka Gandhi Vadra against him, the party named Ajay Rai, who finished third in Varanasi in 2014, after PM Modi and Arvind Kejriwal.
The Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party have fielded Shalini Yadav, who has previously contested only civic polls.
Varanasi votes on May 19 in the last round of the seven-phase national election. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.