New Delhi: Narendra Modi
is the BJP's candidate for Prime Minister in 2014.
Party president Rajnath Singh
sat next to Mr Modi as he made the announcement on Friday evening, after a meeting of the BJP's top decision makers. Behind them a giant photo of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee presided as an era was brought to a close in the BJP and another began.
"The BJP has a tradition of declaring its candidate for PM... the BJP's parliamentary party board has decided that Mr Narendra Modi will be our prime ministerial candidate in 2014," Mr Singh said.
Conspicuously absent, was the BJP's senior-most leader LK Advani, who refused to support the decision, holding out till the end against all attempts to bring him on board. Other dissenters like Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi, grudgingly fell in line. Ms Swaraj sat next to Mr Modi and listened intently as he promised a BJP victory next year. (Track updates
Word that Mr Advani would not attend the meeting came only after other leaders had gathered. In a late RSVP to Rajnath Singh, he wrote he is "disappointed" with the manner in which Mr Modi has been selected. "Now I think it's best I don't attend the meeting," he said. (I am disappointed, Advani writes to BJP chief)
From the BJP headquarters, Mr Modi headed straight to Mr Advani's residence to seek his blessings, and then to Mr Vajpayee's residence, before leaving for Ahmedabad. (Atal-Advani are BJP's banyan tree, must be protected: Modi)
The BJP's allies Shiv Sena and Akali Dal have already thrown their weight behind the Gujarat Chief Minister, whose elevation in the BJP had made a third important ally, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United, opt out of the opposition alliance almost three months ago.
The 85-year-old Mr Advani has reportedly told Rajnath Singh that Modi announcement will plunge the BJP into "political disaster." Right now, he stands isolated in the party, which is celebrating hard at its headquarters in Delhi.
The BJP, and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, hope the announcement will galvanise party workers and pull in its traditional voters ahead of state polls and the national elections due in May.