“We are the largest wireless operator in the country both in terms of customers and revenues.”

Those words are from Bharti Airtel’s last quarterly earnings report—for the months of October-December 2018. They shouldn’t have been there because the merger of its rivals Vodafone and Idea in September had created India’s new #1 player. Bharti Airtel was #2.

Sometime within the next 12 months, and perhaps in 2019 itself, Bharti Airtel will become #3 as Reliance Jio becomes the new #1.

And yet, counter-intuitively, Bharti Airtel hasn’t been in a stronger position for years.