Rai’s experience as a local leader pits him as a front-runner for the seat. Former Varanasi MP Rajesh Mishra’s name was also being considered.
Rai’s local credentials are doubly important as both Modi and Kejriwal are not from the Varanasi region. Quami Ekta Dal leader Mukhtar Ansari had also announced that he would contest from here. Sources said Rai, who was called to New Delhi on Monday had a series of meetings with senior leaders.