Nitin Gadkari may take over as the next BJP president as early as next month.
With the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parental body of the BJP, succeeding in pushing his name for the post, the Sangh does not wish to delay the changeover at the top.
Accepting the Sangh's fiat, BJP leaders too wouldn't mind 52-year-old Gadkari, who is presently head of the Maharashtra unit of the BJP, occupying the post as early as possible. In any case, they have already accepted his name though after conveying to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat their misgivings on his leadership at this juncture.
A month-long schedule announced by the BJP had said the process of electing president would begin only from December 15. Under its statute, the new president can be elected only when polls to 50 per cent of the state units are completed.
The idea, BJP officials say, is now not to wait for the formal election process to get over by December or January 31, which could delay Gadkari taking charge of the party at the headquarters.
As a senior BJP functionary put it, "why should there be delay in his taking charge when his name has been finalised."
Gadkari's name could be endorsed by the party highest body, the parliamentary board, and his appointment formally announced next month.
Later, a meeting of the party's national executive and national council could be held to complete his election as BJP chief for a period of three years. That could happen in January or February.
Sensing the mood of the RSS and BJP leaders, Rajnath Singh has indicated that he doesn't mind leaving his post early- though one version is he was told by the RSS brass to prepare the ground for Gadkari to take over as early as possible to "arrest the mood of drift in the party." Hitherto, Singh's aides had held that his term was over only in January.
Singh said on Tuesday that, "In a way, my term as president has come to an end. At the right time, I will hand over the reins to the new president to bring in a change of responsibility." But he added, "I have not decided the date as yet." He was also now willing to treat November 26 as the date by which his current three-year term gets over.
Bhagwat pressed for Gadkari, the Nagpur-based businessman-leader, ruling out names of "Delhi-centric" leaders as a quick-fix to end the squabbling among the second generation leaders. Advani concurred with Bhagwat after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as well as other BJP chief ministers said they were not willing to quit their posts to take charge of the party in Delhi. The RSS chief made it clear right from the beginning of the consultation process that the Sangh's favourite was Gadkari or Goa leader leader Mohan Parrikar who had to bow out after he remarked Advani was like "rancid pickle" and would have to retire.