Varanasi, also known as Benares, is the ancient seat of learning and the holy town for Hindus.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hopes that with there will be Hindu consolidation in UP, the most populous state in India.
In the last Parliamentary election, the BJP had won just 10 seats from this state. UP sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
UP is crucial in the BJP's scheme of things, if the party intends to form government at the centre. But is it so easy? With the Gujarat Chief Minister contesting from UP, the party hopes to replicate NaMo magic in UP also.
The cadre is energised. The RSS has thrown itself in the campaign. The upper caste that was split between Congress, SP and BSP, is now shifting back to BJP. Many backward castes can also turn towards the BJP now because of Modi's 'charisma'.
There is also hope that disenchantment with Samajwadi Party (SP) government during the Akhilesh Yadav tenure, can turn the tide in favour of SP. UP has three major electoral blocks. The first is Dalits who constitute 22% vote and most of them support BSP's Mayawati.
The Muslims constitute 20% of the state's population. Till now they were solidly behind SP but after Muzaffarnagar riots the shift has begun. The BSP and Congress were getting Muslim votes too. But now there will be more split and it will help BJP.
The Yadavs number 12%. Most of them support SP. But a tiny fraction can support Modi. The backwards are split into several groups. The Jats who support Ajit Singh's RLD have got reservation and this recent UPA decision can bring them towards Congress also.
The Upper Caste shift can help BJP. The Brahmins, Banias and Thakurs constitute 15% populace. If majority of this electorate goes towards BJP, then it will certainly help the party. The opinion polls suggest a mood towards BJP in the middle-class and upper caste Hindu population.
Rajnath Singh hopes to ride over the NaMo popularity wave and has been fielded from Lucknow, replacing Lalji Tandon. Modi has forced Murli Manohar Joshi to leave his constituency and shift to Kanpur. Riot-tainted politicians have also been given ticket, which goes against the party's tall claims.
But it is too early to write off others. BSP has a rock solid vote bank. Muslims can do tactical voting as BJP's victory is seen as an ominous future. Narendra Modi is still associated with the Gujarat carnage of the year 2002. SP is down but not out.
Congress is far behind, as even the AAP is giving it a tough fight. One thing is certain, the election is going to be interesting and tough. BJP cadre is enthused and there are reasons for it. Right now there is advantage BJP. But it will be premature to say that the party will sweep UP in 2014 polls.