Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who made his Lok Sabha debut from Varanasi constituency in 2014, will contest from the same seat in the upcoming general elections, BJP sources told The Indian Express. This comes on a day the Varanasi Congress unit unanimously passed a resolution demanding newly appointed Uttar Pradesh (East) general secretary Priyanka Gandhi be pitted against Modi.
However, a decision on PM Modi contesting from a second seat (Vadodara was his second seat in 2014) would be taken depending on the progress of the BJP election campaign, they said.
With speculation rife that Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel may also throw his hat in the ring from Varanasi, a mouth-watering contest cannot be ruled out.
In 2014, Modi had won the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat by defeating AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal by a massive margin of 3.37 lakh votes, the highest recorded in the constituency. Modi had secured 5,16,593 votes as against 1,79,739 votes for Kejriwal, while Congress, SP and BSP candidates had to forfeit their deposits.
The Aam Aadmi Party has already said that Kejriwal would not be contesting from Varanasi in the coming Lok Sabha elections as he wanted to give special focus to Delhi.
Meanwhile, a day after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi pulled out a surprise by naming his sister as the general secretary of UP (East), posters urging Priyanka to contest the coming general elections from Varanasi sprung up across the constituency on Thursday.
The slogan “Kashi Ki Janta Kare Pukar, Priyanka Gandhi Ho Sansad Hamar” rent the air as some youth Congress workers took out a march in the Lahurbir locality. “The Congress workers are ready to make her (Priyanka) win the elections from the temple town constituency… If she contests from here, the impact would be felt in the neighbouring states as well,” Congress leader Ajay Rai, who had contested from Varanasi in 2014, said.
Varanasi falls under East UP, which is also the political hotbed in the state as it is home to the constituency of Rajnath Singh (Lucknow) and the region around Gorakhpur is the bastion of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Patel, who has made quite a few trips to the temple town in the past year to explore the ground situation, is another contender and he might contest as an independent in 2019 elections. However, in a recent trip to Varanasi, the 25-year-old PAAS convenor said he had not yet decided on contesting from Varanasi but would go by his community’s decision.