The BJP parliamentary board endorsed Rajnath Singh's name as the party's next chief.A party parliamentary board meeting thanked outgoing president Nitin Gadkari for his "dynamic" leadership for the last three years and unanimously endorsed Singh as his successor.
Senior leader LK Advani moved the resolution thanking Gadkari.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday congratulated BJP leader Rajnath Singh who is set to become party president, and said the party would "gain from this" move.
"I called up Shri Rajnath Singh ji and congratulated him. He brings with him vast experience of both organisation and administration," Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
"Rajnath Singh ji served as agriculture minister in Atal ji's government (AB Vajpayee). He has always been associated with the farmers. BJP will gain from this," he said.
Rajnath Singh is close to RSS
After the Tuesday meeting, Rajnath Singh's name emerged as the consenses alternative, sources said. 62-year-old Rajnath, who had served as BJP president till 2009 before Gadkari, is also considered close to RSS and that appeared to have tilted the balance in his favour.But under Rajnath Singh, the party failed to make a strong base in Uttar Pradesh.
Rajnath SIngh played various roles in Politics as he has worked as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, as a Cabinet minister in the National Democratic Alliance regime and as National president of BJP once. He was previously president of the BJP youth wing and the BJP's unit in his home state.
Twist in the BJP presidential came after unease in sections of BJP
Rajnath's Singh's name emerged after a series of meetings involving party leaders Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Ram Lal and Ananth Kumar.
There was unease in sections of BJP over Gadkari's continuance though the party gave him a clean chit following a probe done by S. Gurumurthy, a financial analyst considered close to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
BJP leaders feared that his second term would come in the way of party's all-out attack against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on the issue of corruption in the run up to series of assembly polls this year and Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
Sources said RSS had been in favour of giving a second term to Gadkari despite apparent lack of warmth to the move by Advani. They said that Gadkari not getting a second term was an affirmation of Advani's writ running in the BJP and also vis-à-vis RSS.
The development followed Tuesday's Income Tax 'surveys' of around nine locations connected to alleged financial wrongdoing by company linked to Gadkari and signals by party MP Yashwant Sinha that he could contest if Gadkari was re-nominated.
Informed sources said BJP veteran L.K. Advani also had reservations of Gadkari getting a second term in view of allegations surrounding the Purti group linked to him.
They said that Rajnath Singh was likely to be once again made party chief though efforts were being made to find "a more nationally accepted face". Singh has been BJP president twice earlier.
"It is something good, which is happening. I hope that the people and BJP will realise the advice that I gave long ago was a sound advice. I feel more than vindicated," BJP leader and lawyer Ram Jethmalani said.
Nitin Gadkari, the incumbent battling corruption charges and enjoying the blessings of the RSS chief, put in his papers on Tuesday night by saying he did not want that allegations against him should in any way adversely affect the interests of BJP. "I have, therefore, decided not to seek a second term as the President of BJP," he said.
Naidu told that the central parliamentary board, the highest decision-making body in the party, will meet on Wednesday and decide as to who should succeed Gadkari. Asked if Rajnath Singh is in the race, he felt that it was too early to say anything about the next president and that it will hinge on the decision taken at the meeting.
Gadkari, whose candidature was being strongly pushed by RSS despite reservations within the party, was all set for re-election before senior leader Yashwant Sinha decided this evening to throw his hat in tomorrow's polls.
The move by Sinha, who had earlier demanded Gadkari's resignation in the wake of allegations of impropriety by his firm Purti Group, forced top BJP leaders including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, M Venkaiah Naidu and RSS representative Ram Lal into a huddle to deliberate on the evolving situation.
Gadkari says he is opting out of the race to save the party
BJP President Nitin Gadkari said he is opting out of the race for the top organisational post as he does not want the charges of financial impropriety raised against him to adversely affect the party’s interest.
In a written statement, Gadkari said “I have committed no wrong or any impropriety either directly or indirectly. Yet, the UPA government has been making an effort to spread disinformation about me in order to hurt me and my party. I have always said that I am willing for any independent inquiry.”
Gadkari is facing charges of dubious funding of his Purti Power and Sugar Limited as well as of not returning excess land alloted to the factory.
“I do not wish that this should in any way adversely affect the interests of BJP. I have, therefore, decided not to seek a second term as the president of BJP,” Gadkari said, adding he has conveyed his decision to the party.