Hours before the National Council meeting of the BJP, in an unusual and perhaps calibrated move, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior party leader Arun Jaitley asserted that there is a ‘groundswell’ of support for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

Mr. Jaitley, lawyer-turned politician, in an interaction with the English television channel Headlines Today, on Friday said: “There’s a growing interest in Mr. Modi as the PM candidate. This is due to a groundswell building up among the people. And it’s just not because of a media buzz. When there was a media blitzkrieg against him, he had the strength to survive by addressing audiences over the heads of the media. There are few Indian politicians who have the courage to do that. I think Mr. Modi has made a huge mark on the Indian polity.”

Known to choose his words carefully, Mr. Jaitley in his own way defied the diktat of the newly elected BJP president Rajnath Singh, who last month had imposed a gag order asking party leaders not to speculate on who would be the choice for prime minister.

Earlier, at the National Executive of the party here, ahead of the National Council on Saturday, the BJP president spoke about the decision of the European Union to re-connect with Mr. Modi.

“Even the European Union, despite several campaigns against him, is trying to build new relations with him,” the party national spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad quoted Mr. Singh as telling the delegates.

Mr. Singh also lauded Mr. Modi for achieving the unprecedented feat of winning three consecutive elections in Gujarat.

“The party president accorded a special welcome to Mr. Modi. All the national executive members also welcomed him,” the BJP spokesperson told a press conference.

In 2009 the BJP went to the polls projecting the former Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, as its prime ministerial candidate.