Prime Minister Narendra Modi will contest from his sitting constituency Varanasi in the Lok Sabha elections that begin next month, the BJP announced today, as it launched its first list of candidates for the national elections. Unlike the last elections, PM Modi will not be contesting from a second seat this time.
In 2014, PM Modi contested from Varanasi as well as Vadodara in his home state Gujarat. After winning both, he decided to retain the holy city in Uttar Pradesh.
In Varanasi, he won with a huge margin over his rivals Arvind Kejriwal and Congress's Ajay Rai.
The BJP's assessment is that having PM Modi as a candidate shored up its tally in Uttar Pradesh, where it won a staggering 71 of 80 seats in 2014.
There had been speculation that the prime minister may opt for another temple town of Puri, but top party sources had dismissed the rumours and said he is likely to stick with Varanasi.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the most crucial states of the Hindi heartland. With the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in the state and the Congress fielding their trump card Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as a general secretary, the state's elections will be one to watch out for. The opposition Congress has already captured the other major states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in the last concluded assembly elections.
Varanasi will vote on May 19, in the last round of seven-phase polls that start on April 11. The results will be declared on May 23.
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