This was always a contest between the BJP and AAP, in a so-called three-cornered fight that had an inconsequential Congress holding the third corner.
An overconfident BJP has been routed in an election, which it was supposed to win outright, till around December end. Through January, reality began to set in that perhaps it was going to be a close contest between the BJP and AAP. The results have come as a complete surprise to both the BJP and Congress. The AAP remained consistent in its belief and the results validate its claims.
So what forced the oldest political party in India, with two recent consecutive terms in Delhi, to be reduced to electoral ashes? What made the people turn away from the Congress, that has mostly been secular and close to centrist?
It is obvious that the people have rejected and voted against the Gandhi family. It is not just defeat, but the margin by which each Congress candidate has lost, confirms that Rahul Gandhi as a leader of the Congress party is not as effective as the party would have wanted him to.
The results in Delhi also point to the fact that traditional politics, which is caste based and vote-bank based, is not acceptable to the younger generation anymore. People are now willing to explore new leaders with new ideas that are based on issues.
The Congress has once again failed to read the changing times and remained under the mistaken notion that Rahul Gandhi represents the youth, and therefore acceptable to the masses. The results have conclusively proven otherwise.
What is next for the Congress?
After the drubbing received in the 2014 General Elections, the Congress think tank should have done serious introspection and used the opportunity to rebuild the party, without any Gandhi at the helm. Nothing much has changed in the Congress. The party vice president was seen campaigning for party candidates on safe seats and the organizational reshuffle is long overdue.
This humiliating defeat presents a tremendous opportunity to hand over the reins to a new leader and give him the freedom to rebuild the party from the grass-roots level. The party is too old with great political heritage to be written off. The Congress only needs to be reinvented and the party has to wait for the opposition to reach anti-incumbency level, in order to stage a comeback. The party also needs to strike a balance between the ‘old and the new guard’ within the organizational structure to represent people across age groups and income groups.
Will the party workers now discover their voice to stand up and demand change?