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Poll fever down, tension rises

After exit polls, some politicians in the four states were optimistic, others were apprehensive and a few were in denial on Tuesday.

india Updated: Dec 03, 2003 14:28 IST

On Monday, the exit polls had provided the fodder. And having had the night to think things over, India's political animals went about chewing the cud on Tuesday. Some were optimistic, others were apprehensive — and a few were in denial.

Despite the polls showing a winning lead for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Digvijay Singh seemed confident of victory. He invited journalists to come and watch the counting live with him on December 4.

Digvijay's assured attitude had takers in the Congress headquarters in New Delhi. After all, they argued, his record in predicting election results in MP was better than that of pollsters.

In 1998, Digvijay had insisted he would win, though every survey had written him off. This time, they said, the tacit agreement between the Congress and the BSP would work in the Raja’s favour.

But Uma Bharti and her backers were confident as well. Party insiders said the BJP had an excellent chance of forming governments in both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Which is why the sanyasin was off to Tirupati and Udipi on a thanksgiving trip, while Vasundhara Raje went about thanking all those who worked for her in Rajasthan.

The mood in the BJP camp in Rajasthan was optimistic. The possibility of a hung assembly wasn't bothering party leaders. At the BJP's headquarters, a senior leader said, "We are not worried about a close result. We can count on the support of the Indian National Lok Dal and many candidates contesting as rebels."

There was a sense of unease in the Congress camp, however. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who returned from Jodhpur on Tuesday, appeared distinctly tense, though he told journalists that his party was on track for a second term.

The jitters were evident in the Congress camp in Chhattisgarh as well. There was a pall of gloom in Chief Minister Ajit Jogi's house in Bilaspur as the exit poll results came in. On Tuesday, he returned to Raipur, getting bad news from across the state. For public consumption, however, he wasn't buying the exit polls. "Don't worry, we will form the government," he told supporters.

In contrast, former Union minister Dilip Singh Judeo appeared relaxed at his ancestral home in Jashpur.

With the results almost a foregone conclusion in Delhi, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit too had reasons to relax. And she did, lunching at a five-star hotel and later going for a film.

Her rival Madan Lal Khurana had a quiet day, but he continued to tell those who met him that his party was sure to win.

Hope lives.

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MORALE STUDIES

•Written off by pollsters (like after the last elections in Madhya Pradesh), Digvijay Singh says he will still win a third term

• In denial, ML Khurana refuses to believe any unfriendly predictions. Maintains Dec 4 will belong to the BJP in Delhi

• Locked in a tight battle with the BJP in Rajasthan, a jittery Ashok Gehlot is putting up a brave front. Says Congress will win

• Favourable exit polls for Chhattisgarh have given a boost to Dilip Singh Judeo. His son is also back from police custody

First Published: Dec 03, 2003 00:42 IST