The leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj feels he is prime ministerial material, the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley says the party is set to capitalise on him for elections 2014 and former BJP president LK Advani is all praise for him, though stopping
short of endorsing him for prime minister. It would seem that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi can do little wrong in the eyes of his party seniors. And the irony is that Mr Modi needs no endorsement from anyone, he is the unchallenged BJP leader in Gujarat.
But speaking of someone as prime ministerial material seems to be a case of jumping the gun given the perilous state of the party at the moment. There are allegations of corruption against party president Nitin Gadkari and senior party leaders like Yashwant Sinha and Ram Jethmalani have openly asked for his resignation. The most worrying thing at the moment for the party is not whether Mr Modi should be prime minister or not but that it is in a deep crisis in Karnataka, its gateway to the south. Powerful Lingayat leader and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa has broken away from the party and is about to launch his own outfit.
He has been champing at the bit ever since he lost his chief ministership and the party does not seem to have handled the volatile leader very well. In fact, it has not handled the state very well which explains why there have been three chief ministers in four years. If Mr Yeddyurappa is to be believed, he has the support of 40 MLAs out of the 119 BJP legislators in the state assembly. The BJP has a slender majority of six in the 225-strong Assembly. This puts the very fate of the Jagadish Shettar government in jeopardy.
It is now clear that the iron discipline which was once imposed by the top leadership no longer holds. Mr Gadkari is in no position to crack the whip given that he is struggling to keep his head above the water. This is clear from the fact that the party no longer seems to speak with one voice on crucial issues like leadership. On the same day that many senior leaders expressed the feeling that Mr Modi is suited for the top job, others hastened to add that the party has many capable leaders. This comes at a time when other parties are beginning to draw up preliminary lists of candidates for the next general election.
The BJP in contrast seems to be pulling in various directions. Even its mentor the RSS does not seem able to ensure that the party gets its act together. Mr Modi has charted out his gameplan in Gujarat with precision. The same cannot be said of his party.