Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the longest-serving chief minister in the history of the BJP.
The BJP swept the elections in Madhya Pradesh despite ruling there since 2003 - barring a 15-month period after 2018 - and the question on everyone's lips now is who the next chief minister will be.
The party's strategy of not projecting Shivraj Singh Chouhan as the chief ministerial face, and banking on collective leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity, paid off. The BJP bagged 163 of the state's 230 seats, reducing the Congress to just 66.
It was speculated that Mr Chouhan was being sidelined with seven MPs, including three Union ministers, contesting in the Assembly polls. But the claim of the longest-serving chief minister in the history of the BJP to the top job has been strengthened with the party's stupendous performance.
The other names doing the rounds are of Union ministers Prahlad Singh Patel and Jyotiraditya Scindia (both leaders from the Other Backward Classes, which make up around half of the state's population), BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
The dark horses in the race include two Brahmin leaders: state party chief and first-time MP VD Sharma, and fifth-time MLA and a minister in the outgoing state cabinet, Rajendra Shukla, both of whom hail from the Vindhya region.
Though a large section of the state party believes that Mr Chouhan may remain the chief minister at least till the next Lok Sabha polls, which may be less than six months away, others believe that the 166 seats won by the party - 47 more than the 116 needed for a majority - may give the party's central leadership the cushion it needs to make an alternative choice.
Speaking to NDTV, Mr Chouhan, who is popularly known as 'Mama', said "None of us make any decisions about ourselves. We are part of a bigger mission. We are workers. We do whatever the party decides."
Mr Vijayvargiya comes from the Malwa-Nimar region where the BJP won 47 out of the 66 seats. The leader is seen as close to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, but his name cropping up in a rape complaint in West Bengal may dent his chief ministerial prospects.
When he was asked about Mr Chouhan's Ladli Behna Yojna playing a role in the party's victory in Madhya Pradesh, Mr Vijayvargiya had said 'Modi magic' was the only factor behind the BJP's wins in the state, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
"Was there a Ladli Behna scheme in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan? Some of you journalists are trying to build a narrative. What was common in the three places was Modiji's leadership. The BJP won the elections in MP, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh due to the leadership of PM Modi," he said.
Among the two OBC leaders, Prahlad Singh Patel, who worked extensively for the party's success in Bundelkhand, Mahakoshal, central MP and the Gwalior-Chambal region, is an old warhorse. Opting for the Lodhi caste leader may also boost the party's poll prospects in adjoining Uttar Pradesh's Bundelkhand and Rohilkhand regions.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is believed to have played a key role in the party's victory in the Gwalior-Chambal region - where it won 18 seats compared to 7 in 2018 - as well as some parts of the Malwa and Vindhya region, is also being seen as a strong contender, particularly due to his reported proximity to the PM. It was Mr Scindia's rebellion in 2020 that had led to the falling of the Congress government in 2020, paving the way for the BJP's return in the state.
But, with the former Congress leader being just three and half years old in the BJP, him being made the chief minister may ruffle feathers among old party hands, something the leadership may be keen to avoid, especially ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Mr Scindia has said he is not in the race. In an exclusive interview with NDTV, the civil aviation minister had said the question of him gunning for the state's top job does not arise as he has always been a party worker and will remain so.
Narendra Singh Tomar, who is the Union Agriculture Minister and the party's state poll management committee chief, is also seen as a strong contender, but the controversy generated by his son Devendra Singh Tomar purportedly being seen making monetary deals in a video may hurt his prospects.