Varanasi has five legislative assembly segments- Varanasi North, Varanasi South, Varanasi Cantonment (all three are largely urban and semi-urban in nature), Rohaniya and Sevapuri (both have rural voters).
Varanasi seat is crucial as Uttar Pradesh contributes to maximum seats in the Lok Sabha election.
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2009 result: Veteran BJP leader Dr Murli Manohar Joshi won the Varanasi constituency by getting 2,03,122 votes (30.52%) and by defeating BSP's Mukhtar Ansari, SP's Ajay Rai and Congress's Rajesh Kumar Mishra.
Varanasi went to polls on May 12.
2014 Result: Narendra Modi wins.
About Narendra Modi (BJP)
The BJP 's prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has "pro-Hindutva" image will contest parliamentary polls from Varanasi for the first time and also from Vadodara, his home constituency.
Modi, who has been rigorously campaigning for elections, for the first time directed an attack on his Varanasi opponent and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday when he said there are three AK's that were being praised in Pakistan- AK-47, AK Anthony and AK- 49 (Arvind Kejriwal).
BJP's National General Secretary Ananth Kumar had also revealed, "Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi contesting from Varanasi is part of BJP's strategy to garner votes in the Hindi heartland."
Illustrating the geographic location of Varanasi and how it can help Modi to influence neighbouring regions of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, he said, "This will also help us win a good number of seats in Uttarakhand, Delhi and Haryana regions." "...the fight of Narendra Modi from Varanasi is a strategic fight as we wanted to send a message to the entire Hindi heartland that our Prime ministerial candidate is going to contest from among them..." he said.
About Arvind Kejriwal (AAP)
IRS officer-turned-social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal is a newbie in the national politics and displayed his political skills when he ruled in Delhi for just 48 days.
But, after a debacle in Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal- led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), that has zero-tolerance against corruption, nurtured a higher ambition of jumping into Lok Sabha election 2014 fray.
His party has announced total 434 candidates and he has decided to take on the political giant Narendra Modi from Varanasi.
On March 25, Tuesday, Arvind Kejriwal announced formally that he is ready to fight against Modi, while addressing an election campaign rally in Varanasi.
"I am ready to face this challenge, but I will need your support. I don't have money to contest election. And like Madan Mohan Malviya, who built the Banaras Hindu University, seeking alms from people, even I shall have to do the same way,"Kejriwal said.
Accusing Modi of being an "agent" of industrial houses, Kejriwal warned that if he comes to power, "land will be snatched from farmers and given to Adanis and Ambanis at dirt cheap rates and farmers will have no option but to commit suicide."
45-year-old Kejriwal has undertaken a road show in the constituency to woo rural voters. He has also attempted to win hearts of Varanasi voters by touching their religious sentiments as he started his campaign by taking a 'dip' in the sacred river Ganges and then, by taking a 'pause' during azaan in Mosque, when he was addressing the rally.
Being an outsider, Kejriwal seems confident in his fight against Modi and told media, "I don't see Varanasi as a losing battleground."
About Ajay Rai (Congress)
After much contemplation, Congress on April 8 fielded local leader Ajay Rai to take on BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi.
Describing himself as a "son of soil", 41-year-old Rai has termed Modi as an "outsider" and Kejriwal as a "deserter".
He has claimed, "I am hundred per cent confident that I am going to defeat Modi. This confidence comes from the work I have been doing for my people for the past 20 years. I am one among them and consider them as family, not as vote bank."
A 'local' of Varanasi, Rai is a sitting MLA from the newly-formed Pindra constituency. He had ended ties with the BJP, after an over-decade-long stint, following rift over giving ticket to Murli Manohar Joshi for the Varanasi seat in 2009.
Then he contested on Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket after being denied BJP ticket in 2009. After that, Rai joined Congress.
Bhumihar community constitutes about 1.75 lakh in the total 16 lakh electorate in the temple town and he has a strong presence among Bhumihars and Brahmins voters.
He shot into prominence when he defeated the CPI stalwart Udal in Kolsala constituency in the 1996 UP elections. He has since won each assembly election and has been a five-time MLA.
Analysis: Narendra Modi is Gujarat Chief Minister since 2001 and Arvind Kejriwal ruled Delhi as CM only for 49 days.
Kejriwal's political experience in front of seasoned politician Modi is "miniscule", that doesn't pose a huge challenge for Modi, as far as winning chances are concerned.
But Kejriwal has his own set of supporters who are against corruption and want a change in politics, but all his capabilities turn fade when compared to Modi's stature.
Exuding confidence about defeating Modi and others in the fray, Ajay Rai has called himself as a "giant killer". He is banking on his 'local' image and said that all others including Modi and Kejriwal were outsiders and like 'Siberian birds' who will go away after elections.
Meanwhile, Mafia-turned-politician, jailed MLA of Quami Ekta Dal(QED) Mukhtar Ansari has withdrawn his candidature from Varanasi, "to strengthen secular forces and avoid division of votes".
However, it has said the party will support AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal if he emerges as the strongest candidate with a potential to defeat BJP leader Narendra Modi.