The great unwanted debate on why Modi is contesting from a safe seat (Varanasi) is purely rhetoric, fact is and which everyone knows, Modi’s assessment will not be done based on Varanasi’s seat. Given a situation Modi wins from Varanasi, and party loses across India under his leadership, it will make him a bigger looser and few leaders within BJP will be first to question his leadership. Just in case, he loses from Varanasi and wins seat across India, he will be a true winner but the detractors will focus on Varanasi.
Why Varanasi? The city has been a strong hold of BJP but it’s also important to know that BJP only 30% vote share and in 2009 elections BSP’s Mukhtar Ansari got 27% seats speaks a lot about the situation.
Modi’s gambit is to make an impact felt across the Purvanchal belt; there are 24-28 (loosely defined) seats in Purvanchal area and that makes 25% of overall seats in Uttar Pradesh, Modi wants his encash his popularity as this belt can easily influenced because of multiple factors. Two major factors are, Hindi heartland and development, Modi can sell his Gujarat model effectively.
In 2009 election, BJP was placed in this region, BSP and Congress taking 10 seats respectively while BJP only got 4 seats and that gives BJP a huge opportunity.
Modi also realizes time is money, with entire Purvanchal region being covered 12th May while the elections in rest of UP will get over by 30th April, he can get all his energies & strength directed to this region.