“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is an old saying. But when things get tougher in politics, it means only thing: the stakes are quite very high and no player can lose.
But if you see their preparations, campaign speeches, endless rows and their abuse of opponents, they all point to one thing: when the results are out on December 8, each of the players is looking for a bigger message to go out to the electorate.
Neither the Congress nor the BJP will openly acknowledge that the current polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Rajasthan are a mini-general election.
As the possible scenarios are debated within the parties’ war rooms, failure to win in any one of the states will send out a signal of bad tidings ahead of 2014.
If the BJP retains the states in which it is in power and unseats the Congress in Rajasthan and Delhi, it could justifiably go to town and claim that it has tapped the angst and anger over inflation and corruption and turned them against the Congress-led UPA, and unseat it in 2014.
Similarly, if the Congress were to retain power in Delhi and Rajasthan and send packing the BJP in MP and Chhattisgarh, nothing could be more ominous for its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and the saffron party.
“If Modi loses 2014, his bubble is burst,” said Union minister Jairam Ramesh not long ago.
The Congress may not wait till 2014 to declare it’s over if the assembly polls are disastrous for the BJP.
In any case, the BJP and the Congress are also ready with their defence too. “No question of taking poll results as a comment on Modi,” says BJP chief Rajnath Singh.
Congress spokespersons such as Meenal Afazal reject any bid to dub the polls a semi-final before the 2014 elections.
“Every election is a final in itself.” Of course, the stock reply will be the state elections are fought on local issues!