Varun Gandhi may be named the BJP candidate for the Vidisha Lok Sabha seat, for which by-elections will be held on October 30.
The Election Commission on Thursday announced the date for issue of notification as October 6 and the last date for filing nominations as October 13.
Central BJP leaders including AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu are said to favour Varun. RSS chief KS Sudarshan too supports his candidature to counter the younger generation of Congress leaders, led by Rahul Gandhi. A meeting of the BJP's central election committee will be held in October first week for a final decision. Before that, the state BJP is likely to meet to indicate its preference.
Initially, the name of Sushma Swaraj, the BJP's deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, was doing the rounds with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan strongly favouring her.
Chauhan vacated the seat when he got elected to the state assembly from Budhni in May. Swaraj is believed to have conveyed to other BJP leaders that she is not too keen but will abide by the party's wishes. Swaraj was elected to Rajya Sabha from MP for a six-year term only in April.
Besides, Rajnath does not want to disturb the BJP leadership in Parliament though some leaders feel Swaraj can boost the BJP's voice in the Lower House, where Advani and VK Malhotra lead the party attack against the government. "I do not see any need for a change in the arrangement," Rajnath had told HT a few days ago.
A majority of experienced BJP leaders, including Rajnath and Arun Jaitley, are members of the Upper House, considered the party's second line. Senior leaders MM Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie are also members of the Rajya Sabha. Jaswant Singh is the Leader of the Opposition in the House.
Swaraj's election to the Lower House is not a good idea for other BJP leaders who are in the leadership race at the central level ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
Hence, they may not support her, a party functionary said. Chauhan, though, is still keen on Swaraj taking on his rival Uma Bharti. State BJP chief Satya Narain Jatiya also favours Swaraj, whose election to Lok Sabha from the state could given them a boost.
On Wednesday, the state government released an advertisement with a prominent picture of Swaraj in connection with a mela at Dilli Haat.
Varun is keen to take the plunge, though his stated position is that he will go by the party's decision. Those close to him say his election from Vidisha will enhance the BJP's campaign for the Uttar Pradesh polls next year, for which he is expected to campaign extensively.