Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal today declared he was ready to take on BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from Varanasi but put a rider that he would do so if the people there want it.
Addressing a rally here, Kejriwal said his party wanted him to contest against Modi and he accepts the challenge to face the Gujarat Chief Minister who should be defeated.
Kejriwal however qualified his statement saying that he would hold a rally in Varanasi on March 23 and would go by the people's response, indicating that he will take a final decision then.
"I will go to Varanasi on March 23. We will have a rally in Varanasi. Whatever people of Varanasi will say that will be final. If people of Varanasi decide to give me this responsibility, I will accept it wholeheartedly."
Kejriwal, whose announcement was welcomed with loud cheers from AAP's supporters, said "......friends, there was meeting within the party. The party told me that I have to fight elections against Narendra Modi."
"I know it is a big challenge. I know it is not a small challenge. We are not here for power or money. We have come here to sacrifice our lives for the country.....I feel I'm blessed if I get an opportunity to sacrifice my life for the country as Bhagat Singh did", he said.
The AAP leader's public declaration, though not definitive, comes a day after the BJP announced that Modi would be fielded from Varanasi, held by party veteran Murli Manohar Joshi who conceded the seat after reported hard bargaining.
"I have not come here for victory or defeat. We have come here for struggle. I accept this challenge," said Kejriwal who concluded his two-day visit to the state with the rally.
"I'm a small man. I don't have anything. I don't have money or manpower. You will have to fight this election.
Common man of this country has to fight this election," the AAP leader said as he poured scorn and vitriol on the Modi government in his speech.
"But I'm not accepting this election today. I will go to Varanasi. On March 23 we will have a rally in Varanasi. I appeal to the people of this country to come to Varanasi on 23rd," Kejriwal said.
He said, "The party has given me ticket but party giving ticket is not important to me. The day people of this country give ticket to me, I will fight against Narendra Modi."
Kejriwal also had a dig at Modi following reports that the BJP leader would fight the Lok Sabha polls from two constituencies, one from his home state apart from Varanasi, saying he was searching for a safe seat.
"Friends, I have been hearing for the past few days that Modi is preparing to fight this election from two seats. He is searching for one safe seat.... heard he will be contesting from one seat in Gujarat also...." "....if he does it, it will be like he is leader of Gujarat but not fit to be Prime Minister of the country," said Kejriwal, who devoted good part of his speech to attack Modi and question the development model presented by him.
Kejriwal said, "....he has to contest from one seat.
Contesting from two seats... Doubt will certainly arise in the minds of the people as to why he is searching for a safe seat."
"We want a brave Prime Minister. Do we after-all want a Prime Minister who is looking for a safe seat."