A tummy upset has forced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to drop one of his three election meetings in Maharashtra scheduled for tomorrow.
A senior Congress politician in New Delhi confirmed today that the prime minister had contracted diarrhoea and would have to go a little easy on Sunday's engagements.
The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, however, was unaware of the change until late evening today. According to MPCC media centre in-charge S Muzaffar Hussain, Dr Singh will address three public meetings in Dhule (1100 IST), Akola (1300) and Nanded (1430).
The prime minister had earned kudos for his visit to Mumbai last week, where he adopted a more aggressive approach than he is normally known for and played his political cards adroitly.
According to the latest private survey sponsored by the Congress, Maharashtra increasingly seems inclined to vote for the Democratic Front alliance.
According to this survey, if voting had been held this week in the state, the DF would have won between 141 and 164 seats, leaving 110 to 118 for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance.
It is being presumed in Congress circles that if the party is able to hold on to Maharashtra, the leadership will focus its attention completely on Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The latter state is scheduled to have assembly elections in February 2005.