BJP supporters crammed internet chat rooms and battled with euphoric Congress backers. The heartburn showed and every once in a while there was a ‘burnol’ taunt thrown at a bhakt. The only panacea left was to believe in the belief that exit polls are not to be believed! That they are fallible and not every number is a finite! That said, pollsters have over the years perfected their art into a science and are getting closer to actual numbers. Also, political parties do tend to wear shaking boots the day of exit polls.

Back to December 7, the Congress was being cited as the ‘Comeback Kid’ with projected victories not just in Rajasthan, where it was anyway expected to win, but also in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, two states where anti-incumbencies are three times the weight of that in Rajasthan. At the end of the day, it was difficult to believe which pollster got the number right, there were so many of them. But, on the day when there were no real prizes to be handed out, the virtual prizes went to the Congress.

In all three states – MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan – it is a straight contest between the BJP and the Congress though in Chhattisgarh, Ajit Jogi could very well be the one with the spanner! Three-time Chief Minister Raman Singh appeared relieved that at least one exit poll, Times Now-CNX, gave him a clear lead. He thanked Times Now for the “trust” and reiterated that the BJP tally would be closer to “60 seats, maybe over 60”. If anybody believed him, that person did not speak up. Axis-India Today dumped him in the river to sink without a trace.

Madhya Pradesh looked like, according to the exit polls, to go to the wire; with quite a few of the pollsters taking the state away from the unwilling hands of three-time Chief Minister Shivraj Chauhan whose face is so familiar to the electorate, they would rather see a fresh one, maybe that of Kamal Nath or the younger glossier one of Jyotiraditya Scindia. If on December 11, the Congress romps home with the winning score, expect the two to fight it out for the CM’s post though it will be Congress President Rahul Gandhi who will have the last word, and name!

That brings us to the all-important question, “Who wins, Rahul Gandhi or Prime Minister Narendra Modi?” The exit polls are leaning towards Rahul. Even if one state out of the three lands in Rahul’s kurta pocket, he’ll be victor. That one state, looks like, is Rajasthan, where only a tsunami can prevent a Congress victory and Rajasthan is landlocked! It’s BJP’s arrogance that it didn’t dump the completely out-of-favour with the people Vasundhararaje Scindia. December 7, Raje sat cross-legged on a Khaat (cot) and ate lunch saying in between mouthfuls the BJP will win!

Think of living in a bubble! The sort children blow through pipe-stems. There’s talk that Modi’s final rallies will pull the BJP through but that is more bubbles and bubbles burst, you know? In the Gujarat elections, Modi pulled off victory and Rahul got a “moral victory”, but that was one state. This time there were three-plus-two; too much ground to cover for even Modi-the-indefatigable. In between he also had to go to G20 to stand in row for a pix!

And, now, it looks or rather it’s being asked whether this was the last time Modi will be at a G20? If December 11 apes December 7, it looks glum for the BJP and Modi in 2019. Unless tectonic “extraditions” happen – that of Vijay Mallya and the possibility of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi – and people vote differently for the Lok Sabha than they voted for these assemblies, at least the majority of them. But Rahul Gandhi has got the mojo right now; that is for sure. How the times have changed in so less a time! Extraordinary. (IPA Service)