Nitin Gadkari looks set to get second consecutive term as the BJP president on January 23, virtually putting to rest speculation about him leading the party into the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the face of charges of business irregularities.
Gadkari attacks Congress over 'Chintan Shivir'
The nominations for the post will be filed and scrutinised the same day and Gadkari is expected to be declared the chief by afternoon. He will hold the post for three years.
Issued Sunday, the notification says the announcement will be made the same day unless there is a contest -- something that has never happened as the party has always insisted on consensus for the top post.
Some within the party are reading the notification as a sign that BJP patriarch LK Advani, who has been opposed to second term for Gadkari, may now be reconciled -- or at least resigned -- to the re-election. Advani pushed for Sushma Swaraj as a possible alternative to Gadkari, but Swaraj, already the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, made it clear she wasn't inclined.
There is little chance of Gadkari facing a challenger. Any other nomination will be read as defiance of the RSS, the party's ideological parent.
"Will any leader want to raise the banner of revolt against the RSS with a year to go for the Lok Sabha polls? Politically, it's next to impossible," said a party leader.
Sources close to Rajnath Singh, the third name that came up in the mix, said he was not in contention.
Some party leaders privately share Advani's concern that the BJP may be pushed on the backfoot if it goes with corruption as the poll plank but none seem ready to take the Sangh head on.
The RSS has held that accusations of irregularities against Gadkari's Purti group exist only in the media and no competent authority has indicted him.