Another set of election defeats for the Congress today reinforced the view that India’s oldest party is at its lowest point since Independence.
In its never-ending nightmare, the Congress today lost Punjab to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and could not get even a fighting chance in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
In Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP headed for a record win with a landslide, the Congress placed a distant fourth despite Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s extensive campaign.
“Humbly accept the people’s verdict… We will learn from this and keep working for the interests of the people of India,” tweeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress said it is niraash (disappointed), but not hataash (despairing).
“The decision of the people is ultimate. It’s a learning for the party. But this doesn’t mean we give up. We are not going anywhere. We will keep fighting until we win and then it will be the victory of the people. We will return with new changes and a new strategy,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
The party avoided using the word “introspection” – a term that has come to define the Congress’ avoidance of its core problems.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi talked about a “revamp and rewiring” after the latest in a series of election debacles for the party since 2014, when it lost power at the Centre.
“If we lose in all five states, then we have to think about a revamp and rewiring for the party,” said Mr Singhvi.
The party was losing at least half of its vote share in Punjab, one of the last big states in its depleting deck.
The Congress’s heavyweights – Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Sidhu – both lost in an AAP wave.
Wracked by infighting, the Congress went into self-destruct mode in Punjab, replacing its Chief Minister just four months before elections and failing to set its house in order.
Two leaders who quit the Congress recently went into an “I-told-you-so” mode.
“These are transformative results. One thing is clear. The Gandhi leadership no longer delivers for the Congress. They are no longer a cementing force,” said former Union Minister Ashwani Kumar, who quit the Congress after 46 years.
Jitin Prasada, a senior UP leader who switched from the Congress to the BJP in June, was asked to compare the two parties. “There is consistency in the BJP. The whole machinery is 24/7, not just descending during election time, giving speeches and vanishing. Other parties are not visible on the ground,” he said.