In Pictures: Battleground Varanasi

Ancient city will see BJP's Narendra Modi and AAP's Arvind Kejriwal face off on May 12 at end of India's polling.


Varanasi, the religious and spiritual hub of India, is emerging as the election battleground for outsiders; Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal.

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Kejriwal is expected to start his campaigning from the city on Wednesday. Since his last visit in March, AAP has launched a door-to-door campaign. Meanwhile, unofficial reports state that Modi will file his nomination on April 18. 

Elections in Varanasi are scheduled for May 12, the last of India's nine-phase polling.

The ancient city is located on the banks of Ganges in eastern Uttar Pradesh state that sends the largest number of seats to parliament.

The ruling Congress party has announced Ajay Rai, a sitting member of the state assembly, as its candidate.

In the last election in 2009, BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi won the seat by defeating Bahujan Samaj Party's Mukhtar Ansari.

Since 1991, BJP has consistently won this seat barring 2004 when Congress candidate emerged victorious.