A top BJP leader dropped the clearest hint so far that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was poised to be declared the party's PM nominee ahead of the next Lok Sabha election.
BJP general secretary Thawar Chand Gehlot on Saturday said Modi was the only party leader who was in demand across the country.
"The parliamentary board realises that Modiji is a popular leader in the country and it will honour the public sentiment while taking the decision," he told reporters.
However, the decision, Gehlot said, would be taken at an "appropriate time". "The party will announce its PM candidate as soon as the process for the next Lok Sabha poll gets under way," he said.
Gehlot's views are important as he, like Modi, is a part of the 12-member parliamentary board and, as such, a part of the decision making process on the BJP's PM candidate.
Asked about Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's known reservations about Modi's possible candidature, the BJP general secretary said, "Everything will be settled at the right time."
Gehlot affirmed that the BJP-JD (U) alliance was very old and will remain intact. Bihar BJP president Mangal Pandey was present when Gehlot made these observations.
However, Bihar JD(U) spokesman Rajiv Ranjan said such efforts went against the grain of the coalition 'dharma'. The state BJP leadership should take note of the matter and take appropriate action, he added.