AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal leaves Monday by train for Varanasi to take on BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha election, party sources said Sunday.
Kejriwal will take an evening train from here and reach the Hindu holy city in Uttar Pradesh Tuesday when he is expected to hit the campaign trail, the sources said. Although it is more than evident that Kejriwal will be the Aam Aadmi Party candidate in Varanasi, the party has made no official announcement to this effect so far.
April 24 is the last date for filing of nomination in Varanasi, which goes to the polls in the last of the nine-phase Lok Sabha balloting May 12. The last date for withdrawal of nomination is April 28. From Tuesday, Kejriwal is expected to camp in Varanasi until the polling day, one of his aides told IANS.
In between, however, the former Delhi chief minister will travel to nearby Amethi constituency to seek votes for his colleague Kumar Vishwas in Amethi, which will vote May 7. The AAP has already unleashed a major campaign in support of Kejriwal in Varanasi, from where veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009.
The man Joshi defeated, Quami Ekta Dal leader Mukhtar Ansari, has announced he won't be contesting this time. His announcement has already triggered speculation that there may be mass voting by Varanasi's Muslim population in favour of Kejriwal.
Asked about this, an AAP leader told IANS: "That's what you people (media) think. The AAP already had the support of Muslims in Varanasi." Senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia left Saturday for Varanasi. Scores of AAP supporters are also expected to pitch in for Kejriwal and Kumar Vishwas in Varanasi and Amethi respectively.
The third major contender in Varanasi, apart from Modi and Kejriwal, is Ajay Rai of the Congress. Kejriwal has already been going hammer and tongs against Modi all over the country, accusing the Gujarat chief minister of pandering to the interests of corporate houses. The AAP leader has also been saying that Modi's achievements in Gujarat were more or less a myth, promoted mainly by the media.
He also said that the most important candidates in ths Lok Sabha election who needed to be defeated are Modi (Varanasi) and Rahul Gandhi (Amethi).