India’s Modi paints image of Hindu ascetic called to power

2000 (1)Source: Associated Press

By EMILY SCHMALL

NEW DELHI (AP) — The man in the saffron robe sat cross-legged with his eyes closed, back to the wall of a cave framed by the Himalayas.

This was India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest production, traveling to a remote mountain temple with a preferred TV news crew to show the world India’s leader meditating days before the country’s marathon elections ended.

Modi, 68, has carefully constructed an image of himself as a pious man of the people, a would-be monk called to politics who has elevated India’s status globally and transformed its general elections from a contest of political parties on social and economic issues into a cult of personality. By Friday morning, the vote count showed his Bharatiya Janata Party winning a majority of seats in India’s lower house of Parliament, and able to form a government without a coalition.

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