The million-dollar question doing the rounds in BJP is where Narendra Modi will contest the Lok Sabha elections from.
He can either choose his home state Gujarat or Uttar Pradesh, BJP's Hindutva bastion and the epicentre of Ayodhya agitation. Party leaders indicated that Modi is inclined to contest from Gujarat as that would mean no worries about his home turf. He could rather devote more time to campaigning across the country.
But Modi's presence in UP would mean 10 more seats for BJP. This is based on the latest party survey carried out about a week ago — the third in a series being conducted in the state since November.
The central election committee (CEC), which picks up the candidates, is meeting on February 27 and a Modi rally in Lucknow is scheduled on March 3. It is still unclear if the CEC will announce Modi's constituency this Friday.
There is a rising demand among BJP cadres in UP, the crucial state in Hindi heartland with a massive 80 Lok Sabha seats, that Modi should contest from the state.
Speculation is rife that he might contest from Lucknow — the Lok Sabha seat that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee represented. Lucknow, feel many in the party, can act as a talisman for its prime ministerial candidate.
But a senior party leader from UP said Modi is unlikely to venture out of his home turf in Gujarat.
Another party functionary said that Modi's backward class identity, which is being played up in Bihar, should not be emphasised in UP as it would alienate the upper castes in the state — the party's traditional vote bank.
The latest party survey, however, found that the Modi factor has the potential to surpass caste equations, which have dominated the state's politics.
The party's November survey showed BJP getting 40 seats in UP. The one in February showed the party's tally rising to 60.