With Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh throwing in the towel and giving up his quest for a third term in office, interest is now focussed on his meeting later this evening in New Delhi with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Congress sources in Bhopal said Singh will call on Gandhi to discuss the election results, chiefly those from Madhya Pradesh, where the party has been destroyed, and their impact on the party's strategy for the parliamentary elections due next year.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has already told Bharatiya Janata Party MPs to return to their constituencies after the three-week winter session of Parliament and start working for the general election.
The Congress leadership had expected to sweep the polls in Rajasthan, Delhi and Chhattisgarh, with Madhya Pradesh seen as the only problem state. Now the party's looming defeat in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and the possible loss of Chhattisgarh as well, overturns its hope of being seen as the 'government-in-waiting' at the Centre.
The party's failure to retain Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan will adversely affect Gandhi's claim to being projected as the opposition's prime ministerial candidate.
Already, the Samajwadi Party appears disinclined to support her while some other smaller parties, including the Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar, are staunchly opposed to her candidature.
The Singh-Gandhi meeting will discuss such issues, the Congress sources indicated.
The early trends from Madhya Pradesh indicate that the BJP has taken an unassailable lead and Uma Bharti will be the state's next chief minister.
Singh, who till late yesterday appeared confident that he would head the state government for a third term, conceded this morning that "emotional issues" (read power and water shortages and the absence of roads) were responsible for his party biting the dust.
Jubilant BJP supporters outside the party office in Bhopal asserted that they had successfully raised 'our BSP issue', BSP being their acronym for 'bijli, sadak, paani' (power, roads, water). "No wonder he is losing," said Rahul Singh, a spectator outside the BJP headquarters.
Interestingly, Rahul Singh said he does not support the BJP, but could not forget the heat and mosquitoes in summer because of repeated power cuts, which also affected his studies.
BJP politician Kailash Vijayavargiya, mayor of Indore, indicated that the thoughts of senior BJP leaders had already turned towards the formation of the next government. The government, he said, would be "lean but effective" and strive to meet the "people's aspirations".