BJP's quest to find a replacement for ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar suffered a setback on Wednesday, with a meeting of top state BJP officials with party President Amit Shah in Delhi failing to resolve the issue.
Party sources said the meeting, attended by state BJP President Vinay Tendulkar and Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik -- both contenders for the chief minister's post, remained inconclusive.
"Our party President is seized of the matter, but no decision has been made on the leadership issue yet," a BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity.Sources said that a pointed demand made by regional ally Goa Forward to appoint a non-legislator as a chief minister was shot down by Mr Parrikar, who is admitted to AIIMS.
Mr Parrikar, diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer, has been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, New York and now Delhi since February.
This has led to criticism from the opposition and civil society, which have demanded Mr Parrikar's resignation to make way for a "fully fit" chief minister.
There are several candidates which the BJP leadership has been considering over the last few days, ever since the high command took serious note of the criticism about Mr Parrikar's absence from office.
The options include Shripad Naik, a popular 'bahujan samaj' leader whose presence could be a boon for the BJP, which has over the last few years been accused of alienating the lower castes.
While Shripad Naik is Mr Parrikar's peer in the Goa BJP, both leaders have shadow-boxed each other on several occasions and are known to head two power centres within the party.
The other candidate is Vinay Tendulkar, a Rajya Sabah MP who has previously given up ministerial berth as well as a party ticket on leadership's instructions as also Goa Assembly Speaker Pramod Sawant.
Senior state party leaders as well as ex-MLAs, who met National General Secretary (Organisation) Ram Lal in Goa this week have rejected the proposal to invite a member of the alliance parties to head the coalition government.
Speaking to IANS, Goa Forward President Vijai Sardesai said that he was fine with the delay on part of the BJP to decide on the leadership issue.
"Let them take time. But the decision should be a permanent one that keeps the state's political stability in mind," the Town and Country Planning Minister said.