The Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 years, on Tuesday (February 11) stared at the dubious distinction of scoring a duck for the second consecutive time in assembly elections and being reduced to a fringe player in the national capital’s politics.
Fears of the Congress not having a credible face after the death of its three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit last July, and ceding its vote bank to the Aam Aadmi Party came true with the Arvind Kejriwal-led party capturing the space once occupied by the grand old party.
In what ended up being a bipolar contest between the AAP and the BJP, the Congress was trailing at a distant third on almost all the city’s 70 seats with many candidates facing the ignominy of losing their deposits.
The Congress nostalgia-steeped campaign, centred around the development done by Dikshit in her 15-year tenure as chief minister, failed to enthuse voters with several asking questions of the party on leadership and its future strategy for Delhi.
As the results came in, criticism of the Congress Delhi unit started gaining traction and many leaders called for “action” rather than introspection.
“We are again decimated in Delhi. Enough of introspection, time for action now. Inordinate delay in decision making at the top, lack of strategy and unity at state level, demotivated workers, no grassroots connect-all are factors. Being part of the system, I too take my share of responsibility,” Delhi Mahila Congress chief and party spokesperson Sharmishtha Mukherjee said in a tweet.
We r again decimated in Delhi.Enuf of introspection, time 4 action now. Inordinate delay in decision making at the top, lack of strategy & unity at state level, demotivated workers, no grassroots connect-all r factors.Being part of d system, I too take my share of responsibility
— Sharmistha Mukherjee (@Sharmistha_GK) February 11, 2020
Her colleague Jaiveer Shergill suggested the Congress should avoid things like justifying defeat, finding happiness in the BJP’s defeat and telling itself that wins and losses are cyclic in elections.
3 Things Congress should NOT do today:
1. Justify own defeat
2. Find happiness in BJP defeat
3. Tell themselves that in Election wins & losses are cyclic
Congratulations to @AamAadmiParty for a well deserved victory & running a focussed campaign.
— Jaiveer Shergill (@JaiveerShergill) February 11, 2020
Congress MP Pratap Singh Bajwa said those against the BJP’s divisive politics had the option of either the AAP or the Congress, and they chose the former. “One thing is for sure all parties that are winning state elections, it is because of a leader. If people have faith in the leader, that party wins. The BJP never had a face in Delhi. The Congress has to bring in an educated, young face (in Delhi) for the future and keep working hard,” he said.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a Rajya Sabha MP and Supreme Court lawyer, says the Congress needs to find an alternative to the late Sheila Dikshit, a three-term chief minister who governed Delhi between 1998 and 2013.
Ask my friends, tv channels today, In court, In parliament. I had said bjp wl b near 15. Looks like that. #delhielections #AAP latter have done reasonably good work in edu, Health & sahayaks. #INC has 2search 4 an alternative shiela face& back him/ her for4 years starting now.
— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) February 11, 2020
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a Lok Sabha MP from West Bengal, told ANI that the Congress’ defeat won’t send a good message.
In the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, the Congress had a vote share of 9.7 per cent against the BJP’s 32.7 per cent and the AAP’s 54.34 per cent. The Congress contested the polls this time in alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal, fighting on 66 seats and leaving four for its ally.
The Congress had been in power in Delhi for three straight terms between 1998-2013 with Dikshit as the chief minister. The AAP’s rise has been a major factor in Congress’ decline, from being a dominant force in the national capital to being a marginal player.
The AAP’s capture of the anti-BJP vote has been completed in this election with the Kejriwal-led party taking a large chunk of the Congress vote share. The Congress has accepted defeat in the Delhi Assembly polls and vowed to rebuild and revive itself at the grassroots level in the national capital.