NEW DELHI, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Is the charismatic chief minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, the country's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s potential prime ministerial candidate for the general elections in 2014?
Though the BJP has not yet said it openly, indications seem to be apparently clear.
A day after Modi met the newly elected BJP chief Rajnath Singh in the national capital and told him that he was ready for a larger role in the party before the general elections, a senior party leader openly backed him Monday.
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha pitched hard for Modi's candidature as the party's prime ministerial candidate in 2014 general elections, saying it would benefit the saffron party hugely.
"There is a huge demand from our workers that Modi should be projected as the prime ministerial candidate. After careful thought, I have concluded that if BJP declares Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, then BJP will benefit hugely in the elections. It will have a big impact on voters," Sinha, a former Indian foreign minister, told the media.
He, however, responded positively when asked about a possible opposition from one of its regional allies, the Janata Dal (United) , in the eastern Indian state of Bihar led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar because of Modi's alleged involvement in the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002.
"They are our oldest ally. The Janata Dal (United) should not target only one person. Either we as a party are secular or communal. They should not pick and chose one person. Every party has full right to take their own decision. My personal view is that if the BJP projects Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, then they should just accept it without making an issue out of it, " Sinha said.
The Janata Dal (United) is an ally of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which was in power in India from 1999 to 2004. The NDA is currently the ruling alliance in Bihar.
However, if still the Janata Dal (United) wants to quit NDA, the senior BJP leader contended: "If any party goes, a number of parties will come. It is another party, it is an ally. If they take a position, they should take it only after careful consideration."
Sinha's remarks came a day after Modi met the BJP chief and held "elaborate" on the 2014 general elections. "I had come to congratulate him and ask him what I should do. How should I work ahead," the Gujarat Chief Minister told the media after the meeting with Singh Sunday evening at the latter's residence in the Indian capital.
Though he avoided responding to him being a BJP's prime ministerial candidate in the upcoming polls, Modi added: "There was a discussion on the 2014 polls. It was quite elaborate."
Political experts say that though the BJP may not in the next couple of months name its prime ministerial candidate, Modi will play a crucial role in the next elections, particularly after his enhanced stature following his third consecutive win as the chief minister of Gujarat last year.
"The BJP will not name any prime ministerial candidate soon. This is because it needs to get a go-ahead from its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) before any such crucial decision.
Modi may be the BJP's favorite but not absolutely the RSS because of its larger than party image. "People in Gujarat voted for him mainly, not for the party," Delhi-based Prof. S. K. Gupta said.
He added: "So let's wait for some more time before the BJP declares its prime ministerial candidate for the upcoming general elections. Internal squabbles in the BJP and between the RSS could see an unlikely candidate, and not so strong person, emerge as its future leader. But Modi's chances are high."