Indian media: Narendra Modi's 'mega road show' in Varanasi

Mr Modi is the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Modi was greeted by thousands of cheering supporters in Varanasi

Media in India are highlighting the "mega road show" of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) PM candidate Narendra Modi in the holy city of Varanasi.

Mr Modi on Thursday filed his election nomination papers as a candidate from the northern Indian city.

His main challengers are the leader of the Aam Aadmi (Common Man's) Party, Arvind Kejriwal, and the Congress party's Ajai Rai.

Newspaper headlines are capturing Mr Modi's "road show" in Varanasi which goes to the polls on 12 May.

"Modi turns river city into a sea of saffron" is the front-page headline in the Hindustan Times - saffron being a reference to the colour of the BJP flag.

"The holy city of Varanasi virtually turned into a sea of saffron as it went on a holiday to welcome the man who is most likely to become India's next prime minister - Narendra Modi," The Asian Age writes.

The Pioneer says "Varanasi came to a halt for nearly three hours on Thursday as thousands of people poured on to streets to catch a glimpse" of Mr Modi who "staged a mega road show" before filing his nomination papers.

'Voter wave'

Meanwhile, papers are also lauding another high voter turnout in the sixth phase of the parliamentary elections.

Voting percentage was higher than the 2009 general elections in nearly all of the 117 constituencies where polling was held on Thursday.

"Polling in a total of 349 Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) constituencies has been completed by the end of the sixth phase of general election with 66% voter turnout. The total registered voter turnout for the same seats during 2009 Lok Sabha election was 57.53%," the Election Commission said.

Papers are also commenting specifically on the voter turnout in India's financial capital, Mumbai.

The city did better than past elections but still lags behind other metropolitan cities like Delhi and Chennai.

At nearly 53%, Mumbai on Thursday saw the "largest turnout since the start of liberalisation in 1991", says The Times of India.

Newspapers are discussing the high voting percentage in front-page headlines.

"Phase after phase, voter wave gets bigger," reads the banner headline in The Indian Express.

"Indian voters on a roll, Mumbai outdoes itself," reads the Hindustan Times headline.

Hindi paper Amar Ujala hopes the "enthusiasm" of the voters will continue in the remaining three phases of the election.

"The statistics show that people are more aware about their voting rights than before… this is a good sign for a democracy," it says in an editorial.

And finally, in some bad news for farmers and the economy, the Meteorological Department has warned of a weak monsoon this year, the Hindustan Times reports.

Though a below-normal monsoon does not mean a drought, rains in the June-September period are "critical" for India's economy as "half of all Indians depend on agriculture for a living", the paper adds.

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