The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Loser looks for place to hide, victor takes new look
- Farewell lunch over, Digvijay eyes Delhi

Bhopal, Dec. 4: It turned out to be a farewell lunch. Digvijay Singh hosted a sumptuous lunch for reporters today, but it did not usher in another five-year spell as chief minister as he might have hoped.

Instead, the Congress leader was left admitting that there was a wave against his party and the Madhya Pradesh government and the result represented “a vote for change”. “I had said if there is a wave, it will be difficult for us. It appears there was a wave,” Digvijay said, admitting that he had failed to feel the pulse of the people.

No sooner had the lunch finished that cartons and containers arrived at 6, Shyamla Hills signalling his exit from the seat of power.

In a corner of the majestic chief ministerial bungalow facing the upper lake, a bonfire had been lit to burn files and papers even as chief minister-designate Uma Bharti cried foul, saying crucial official papers were being burnt.

In the dark rooms inside, the shredding machine worked overtime under the watchful eyes of the personal staff as they wiped away tears, unable to come to terms with the loss of power.

However, Digvijay’s resolve to quit politics assumed a slightly different colour today. Yesterday, he had said he would not hold any office if the Congress lost and would not contest elections for the next 10 years.

Asked if he would have a rethink if the party leadership requested him to, Digvijay had said: “There is no question of going back on it. There are other things apart from power politics.”

Today, he changed tack slightly. Digvijay said he would not accept any party post, including the leadership of the legislature party, for the next 10 years. He also met party president Sonia Gandhi today and later announced that he would not contest elections for the next decade.

“I came here to explain to her about the poll outcome in the state. A comprehensive review would be made later but I requested the party chief to fix a date for the meeting of the Congress Legislature Party to elect its leader,” he said.

However, he added that even though he would not hold any “public office”, he would continue to “serve the people”. He said he would serve as an Opposition MLA.

Digvijay, who has been chief minister since 1993, declared: “I had said that if defeated I will not accept any party post for the next 10 years. I stand by it. I will work as an ordinary party worker and work for bringing it to power in Delhi.”

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