Narendra Modi's move to New Delhi is beginning to look inevitable with the BJP's ideological patrons set to abandon their opposition to projecting a leader ahead of the 2014 general elections.
It is now a question of how soon and in what role, with some in the party wanting him to
take charge of the campaign panel while the man himself may be keener on staying put in Gandhinagar until the BJP removes the roadblocks to naming him PM candidate.
The Gujarat chief minister won a third term in his state less than a month ago, but a slogan popular among his supporters captured the growing mood in the party: "CM for 2012 and PM for 2014."
Now sources in the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's right-wing parent, say that the Sangh bigwigs, who were initially opposed to Modi, will listen to the clamour for him from BJP workers and let him move ahead.
"There is a green signal from the RSS for Modi," said an RSS insider.
"The Sangh...will leave the matter of projecting Modi and its timing for the party to decide."
For starters, Modi could be nominated to the BJP's parliamentary board and eventually be roped in to head the party's central election campaign and strategy panel, BJP sources said.
This could happen once the election of the next BJP chief is completed and a new team takes charge, possibly by early February.
But the big question is whether Modi will take the plunge without a guaranteed run at the top job.
"Modi is not known to make half-baked moves. He goes for the kill only if his role is clear and objectives of involving him are clearly understood by all concerned," said a BJP functionary who is close to Modi.
Modi is understood to be studying the "evolving situation" closely and sources said he has conveyed to senior BJP leaders that he needs six months to take care of Gujarat affairs.
The Congress is set to debate the impact of any promotion for Modi at its Jaipur conclave beginning on Friday.
"The Congress party has declared that Rahul Gandhi will be the face of its election campaign. But it has stopped short of saying he would become prime minister if the party-led UPA was re-elected for a third term. Modi has to be our face," said a BJP leader.
In the event of his projection, Modi will also contest the Lok Sabha polls to send a strong message.
A BJP insider added that the decision to project Modi might have to be taken independent of how the current allies of BJP, such as the Janata Dal (United), react.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has indicated he would part ways with the party if Modi gets a big role.
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