NEW DELHI :
The performance of the Congress in the Delhi assembly elections was its worst ever, putting a question mark on its ability to perform in three-cornered contests without striking an alliance.
This is the second consecutive time that the party failed to win a single seat in the assembly elections. It also did not win any seat from Delhi in three consecutive Lok Sabha elections.
The party’s vote share dropped by nearly half to 4.26% and it finished third in all the seats. To make matters worse, 63 out of its 70 candidates are set to lose their deposits.
“As a political party, it is a cause of deep concern. Both the national and Delhi unit have decided that we will redraw from the grassroots and bring in a newer, fresher leadership and also give them opportunities in the party," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters on Tuesday.
Party leaders feel the writing was on the wall for months. The only surprise was the dip in vote share.
A leadership vacuum, an internal rift, lack of a coherent campaign, and giving up early on were some of the key reasons for the poor performance of the Congress, they said.
“Frankly, we never expected to perform well but at this vote share, we are on the verge of being politically extinct in Delhi. It is not just about Delhi. It is worrying how, in general, we contest elections as there is a complete lack of learning from our past mistakes," said a Congress party leader involved in Delhi’s campaign.
“The mainstay of our campaign was a nostalgia trip and we paid no attention to a forward-looking pitch. Everything, including the announcement of candidates and the release of the manifesto, was done at the last minute. We continue to contest elections as if we are still in power and that needs to change," the Congress leader said.
The leadership question, both at the central and state units, continues to be a key problem for the Congress. Senior leaders feel in states where the party has a decisive leadership in the run-up to elections, such as Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, it is able to tide over internal troubles to take on incumbents.
Tuesday’s poor show is also a cause of concern for the Congress because despite forming governments in Maharashtra and Jharkhand in the last six months, it is limited to being a junior partner to regional parties in states.
A similar problem may arise when Bihar goes to polls later this year where the Congress has aligned with the Rashtriya Janata Dal.