On the face of it, Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee are as different from each other as idli sambar is from macher jhol. The Tamil Nadu chief minister is the self-styled empress of Poes Garden, a remote, inaccessible figure who thrives in imperial grandeur; the West Bengal chief minister, by contrast, likes to project herself as a plebeian folk heroine in crumpled sari and chappals who revels in her street-fighting image.
Indian voters have a knack of surprising political pundits. Just a few weeks ago, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah could do no wrong; now, after a series of byelection reverses, the Modi-Shah duo is being blamed for losing the Midas touch. Neither is the euphoria nor the harsh criticism valid: No two elections are the same and the extreme responses that accompany every election result are perhaps uncalled for.