If a week is a long time in politics, a decade is like an epoch for the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and BJP veteran L.K. Advani.
The Goa capital, where the two-day BJP National Executive meeting will be held on Saturday and Sunday, has a special significance for the two men.
Eleven years ago, the BJP National Executive which was held here was over-shadowed by divisions within the party on the propriety of allowing Mr. Modi to be at the helm of affairs in Ahmedabad after the horrendous riots which convulsed Gujarat in February and March 2002.
Mr. Advani, who was Union Home Minister at the time, stood solidly behind Mr. Modi and prevailed on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee not to give in to demands for replacement of the Gujarat CM on the plea that it would send the wrong signals to the party rank and file.
Ironically, it is Mr. Advani who is in the forefront of the campaign against making the Gujarat Chief Minister the face of the party today.
Despite the resistance, the latest executive could see the party entrusting Mr. Modi with a responsibility which puts him way ahead in the race on who is the best bet to the party's 2014 general election face.
However, there is no clarity on whether the BJP would make a formal announcement at the end of the National Executive on Sunday on constitution of a national committee to coordinate the campaign for the elections scheduled in five States this year end and the 2014 general election.
If there is a delay in the announcement on Mr. Modi, it is only account of the endeavour by the party president Rajnath Singh to get all leaders on board. Senior party L K Advani has been active in the last few weeks to halt the Modi juggernaut in the party.
He raised hackles within the party by declaring at a public meeting in Gwalior a few days ago that if it all any one in the party deserve kudos for crafting a development strategy to lift a backward State it is the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan not Mr. Modi who presided over an already developed State.
The very next day the BJP leadership went into a damage control mode almost blaming the media for misinterpreting comments of Mr. Advani. While the party president was forced to go public that it was Mr. Modi was the most popular leader in the party, the MP Chief Minister had to say that he is not even number three in BJP.
Undeterred by it Mr. Advani fired another salvo by suggesting that the task of coordinating the elections should be given to the former party president Nitin Gadkari only to face a clear `no, thank you’ from Mr. Gadkari.
The BJP president is believed to be engaged in consultations among the top leaders in a bid to evolve consensus on the contentious issue.
“There is expectation among the cadre that BJP president Rajnath Singh will give out a clear message to the party at the Goa conclave. He has been working on it and is in consultation with BJP top brass and members of Parliamentary Board prior to the conclave,” BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said when asked about the issue.