New Delhi: Is the BJP central leadership’s change of heart in respect of Narendra Modi for real and there to stay? How and why did it come about? How will this impact on the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and on national politics generally?

Of the BJP central leaders, only L.K.Advani and Sushma Swaraj were in any sense opposed to Modi. Both had PM ambitions, and Advani was willing and eager to back Sushma Swaraj in case his own chances were minimal.

Arun Jaitley, on the other hand, has played it smart. As a manner of strategist for Modi in Gujarat, he has been on the right side of the Gujarat chief minister. But he hadn’t abandoned his own PM ambitions, which were more likely to come to fruition by remaining on friendly terms with Sushma Swaraj and Advani, which he has managed without great difficulty.

On the off chance that Modi was absolutely unacceptable to the central BJP, and Advani/ Sushma were rejected by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangha (RSS), the ultimate decider of leadership matters in the party, then Jaitley could have pitched himself as the compromise choice, despite the handicap of never having fought Lok Sabha elections.

In the event, the certainty that Narendra Modi would surpass expectations in the Gujarat elections has turned the tide in his favour. Modi is the BJP’s most popular leader. The cadres adore him. Across India, there is a groundswell of support for him. His development work is astonishing in Gujarat, against which the two-term UPA government at the Centre has zilch to show. Such factors advised central BJP leaders to abandon the resistance to Narendra Modi.

Needless to say, RSS played a strong, behind-the-scenes role in this. RSS leaders are masters at the convincing game. In addition to Narendra Modi’s obvious appeal (especially among the young), RSS is likely to have told central BJP leaders that they had their chance to revive the party, and that they did not make the grade. In everyone’s interest, it was best to make way for Modi, and that is how it has happened. It is unlikely that Modi will find himself blocked should he like to move to the centre.

But there should have been quid pro quos. Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj would baulk from working under Modi, even if it is clear Advani will retire to a mentor’s role, taking over from A.B.Vajpayee. The media has previously reported that Jaitley may become BJP president in case luck holds for Narendra Modi and he becomes prime minister.

What about Sushma Swaraj? It looks very likely that she may become Delhi’s chief minister in case BJP wins the state elections. Sushma Swaraj had been Delhi’s chief minister for a short disastrous while. Up to now, BJP’s internal affairs seemed messy, and it looked people like Arvind Kejriwal would steal the party’s thunder in Delhi, where the Congress has come to be loathed for corruption and price rise. But with Modi’s future being sorted out, the BJP looks like a ship which has weathered the storms and is back in business. In such a position, BJP would be a strong contender in the Delhi elections, and Sushma Swaraj would be more than satisfied to be chief minister. If not this option, she could be foreign minister, following in the footsteps of Hillary Clinton after losing the first presidential nomination to Barack Obama. Once in power, the possibilities are endless.

How about the NDA? Will it accept Narendra Modi as PM candidate? The only NDA objector is Nitish Kumar, and contrary to conventional thinking, this writer believes the Bihar chief minister will cease to impede Modi. Nitish Kumar’s so-called “Adhikar Yatra” has shown people’s fatigue with his rule and going without the BJP in Bihar would surely invite Laloo Prasad & Co. to power again. What is more, with a pro-Modi wave likely to generate with his shift to Delhi, leaving the alliance with the BJP would prove disastrous for Nitish Kumar. That analysis holds true for every NDA constituent. So, if anything, Narendra Modi’s shift to Delhi will strengthen and not weaken the NDA.

What about the impact on national politics? If Modi gets to Delhi without major problems, the national political dynamics will change. Those who oppose Modi and BJP in the game of competitive secularism will suddenly play to a different tune. Power attracts. Nothing succeeds like success. With UPA being a sinking ship, Narendra Modi’s movement to Delhi will signal a paradigm shift in national politics.