Varanasi: Arvind Kejriwal, forehead smeared with sandalwood paste from the famous Vishwanath temple, said in Varanasi today, "I will defeat Narendra Modi."
At six this evening, the Aam Aadmi Party chief will address a rally where he will ask people of this city in Uttar Pradesh whether he should contest the general elections from here against Mr Modi, who is the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.
"Banaras and Amethi are the only two contests that matter in this election. Our priority must be to have Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi defeated," he told NDTV. (Priority is to defeat Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi: Arvind Kejriwal to NDTV)
While he emphasised that he does not see himself losing to Mr Modi, he said if he did, it would not be the end of his political career. "I will fight till the end and with all that I have to rid this country of corruption," he said.
As he toured the city after arriving by train this morning, Mr Kejriwal came up against protesters at various places. An egg was hurled at his car outside the famous Vishwanath temple. As his roadshow moved through the narrow lanes of the city, someone threw black ink on the AAP chief and other party leaders accompanying him. (In Pics: Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi to challenge Narendra Modi).
The AAP leader also faced sporadic protests while undertaking the roadshow; protesters raised slogans against him and in praise of Mr Modi.
The BJP's decision to have Mr Modi run for the Lok Sabha from Varanasi is designed to enthuse voters in India's largest state to support the party. Mr Modi, who has never contested a national election, will also be contesting from a second seat - Vadodara in his home state Gujarat.
Like Mr Modi, Mr Kejriwal has never contested a national election. But while Mr Modi is a veteran of many state elections, Mr Kejriwal contested his first in December last year, earning the sobriquet of giant-killer by defeating Delhi's chief minister Sheila Dikshit by a massive margin.
Earlier this month, Mr Kejriwal had conducted a controversial tour of Gujarat; he said he wanted to audit the development that the BJP routinely invokes to illustrate Mr Modi's competence in his four terms as chief minister.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Kejriwal said the claims didn't check out and that the super-state that Mr Modi claims to have created exists only for the wealthy and industrialists.
The Congress has not named its Varanasi candidate yet but has promised to give Mr Modi a tough fight.