It’s been a fortnight of nail biting for candidates in the 230 Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh. As December 8, the day of counting, closes in, politicians have been queuing up at temples for divine intervention to secure their political destinies.

Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan has reportedly paid respects to at least five deities this week, including the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga in Ujjain, the Shiva temple on an island in the Narmada at Omkareshwar, the Khajrana Ganesh temple in Indore and his family deity Bijasen Devi in Salkanpur, Sehore.

Mr. Chouhan and several politicians have also performed the Bangal Mukhi Devi puja at Pitambara Peeth in Datia district. This puja is performed for days and costs around Rs.15,000, according to a devotee in Datia. Mr. Chouhan was also blessed by a preacher Rawatpura Sarkar, who is revered by many MP Ministers.

On Wednesday, he told reporters in Datia not to speculate and to wait for the results. A senior BJP leader who performs his own pujas told The Hindu that the rituals are designed to ease one’s anxiety and help focus on the task ahead. “There are several things that can go wrong at the last moment. If performed with good intentions, pujas help one overcome the fear and perform one’s duty. There are also tantric pujas which invoke supernatural forces to cause difficulties for others,” he said.

He said exit polls were important indicators but no seasoned politician accepts them entirely. “We know the seats we are sure of. For others, we must just wait for counting day as even though our sample size is larger than the polling agencies, we can’t be 100-per-cent sure,” he claimed.

Mr. Chouhan’s competitors in the Congress in Budhni and Vidisha are Mahendra Chouhan and Shashank Bhargav respectively. While Mr. Mahendra has been catching up with old friends in Bhopal, Mr. Bhargav attempted to counter Bangal Mukhi Devi’s intervention by worshipping at the Sidheshwar Dham in Berasia — a suburb of Bhopal, on Wednesday. He was joined by former CM Digvijaya Singh, his son Jaivardhan who contested from Raghogarh and, the Congress’ Govind Goyal, who fought against nine-time BJP MLA and minister Babulal Gaur in Govindpura.

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