NEW DELHI- The leader of a fledgling Indian anti-corruption party was expected to announce plans Tuesday to stand against election frontrunner and opposition leader Narendra Modi in the holy city of Varanasi.
Arvind Kejriwal, head of the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, arrived in Varanasi on an overnight train from New Delhi and has called a rally for later in the day, according to a party spokesman.
“He has said very clearly that he will make an announcement about his candidature today,” the party’s national spokesman Deepak Bajpai told AFP.
“He has said that he will ask the crowd at his rally in Varanasi, and if they feel that he should, he will.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior figure within the AAP said he was “confident” Kejriwal would decide to challenge Modi, who is the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) pick for prime minister.
“Given the preparation… I feel that Kejriwal will announce his candidature against Modi,” the source told AFP.
Although analysts say there is little likelihood of Kejriwal beating Modi, a challenge in such a high-profile constituency will guarantee maximum media coverage for him and his party.
The AAP, which is standing in its first general election, gained control of the Delhi state assembly in December after it rode a wave of anger about a series of corruption scandals.
Kejriwal himself briefly became Delhi’s chief minister after he unseated the incumbent Sheila Dikshit of the ruling Congress party in her constituency.
India’s nine-phase general election begins on April 7 and ends on May 12 in the giant state of Uttar Pradesh, which includes Varanasi. Counting and the results will be announced four days later on May 16.