Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday filed his nomination papers for the Varanasi seat, seeking a second term in the Lok Sabha from the constituency. He was accompanied by a galaxy of top BJP and NDA leaders in a massive show of strength for the country's ruling alliance.
Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U chief Nitish Kumar, Union minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackarey and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal were with PM Modi at the Collectorate as Modi filed his papers.
BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and senior Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj, were also present on the occasion.
In a day full of Kodak moments, PM Modi touched Parkash Singh Badalâ€™s feet while greeting allies who travelled to the city for the filing of his election papers. He also touched former principal of Banaras Hindu University's women college Annapurna Shuklaâ€™s feet in a gesture of respect.
Before filing his nomination papers, PM addressed party workers in the morning. The country, he said, is witnessing a pro-incumbency wave for the first time.
The prime minister also advised party workers to not get into a debate over who Is contesting elections and who is not. He asked people to not be arrogant or over confident.
"Every candidate is respectable... Is not our enemy. We should be humble and politely contest the elections," he said.
Appealing to party workers to not get aggressive or lose their temper at abuses against him, Modi said, "I will grow a lotus from the dirt thrown on me."
The prime minister said he had worked honestly for good governance and the people had made up their minds they want another Modi government.
In 2014, Modi won the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, defeating Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal by a massive margin of 3.37 lakh vote.
Modi polled 5,16,593 votes -- about half the total votes -- while Congress' Ajay Rai finished third.
Rai is the Congress candidate again this time from the constituency that goes to the polls on May 19.