The assembly poll results of five states touted as a seminal ahead of Lok Sabha polls next year threw up a split verdict with only the electorate in Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram pronouncing a clear verdict.
Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan witnessed a see-saw battle with huge setbacks to the BJP.
In Rajasthan, Congress wrested power from the BJP by securing a simple majority.
In Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP was in power for 15 years, the Congress got 114 of the 230 seats when counting ended.
Though this is two short of a majority, the BSP and the SP are likely to extend support to the Congress, according to reports.
That the Congress could not clinch a clear mandate despite a huge anti-incumbency factor in play is no consolation for Congress.
The Congress should do some soul searching about its stance on pre-poll alliance.
Had it managed to clinch a pre-poll pact with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) the verdict would have been vastly different in Madhya Pradesh.
The BSP seemed to have dented the prospects of Congress in more than two dozen constituencies apart from bagging two seats.
It also bagged five per cent of votes while the Congress got 40.9 per cent to the BJP's 41 per cent, as per latest figures of the Election Commission.
The Congress did not project a chief ministerial candidate in MP and Rajasthan where it expected to make inroads and wrest power.
The perception that there are two probable CM candidates in Rajasthan as well as Madhya Pradesh could have confused a sizeable number of voters.
Former CM Ashok Gehlot and PCC president Sachin Pilot contested in Rajasthan while Jyotiraditya Scindia, who spearheaded the campaign, and MPCC president Kamal Nath did not enter the fray.
In Rajasthan as well as MP, more than 20 constituencies swung either way through the counting stage indicating a close contest with a meagre margin.
Independents and the BSP could have eaten into the probable votes of the Congress and to a lesser extent the BJP as well.
Nearly 20 independents in Rajasthan can also come up with demands of plum posts even if Congress manages to win a simple majority on its own as this would politically suit the party to go for a comfortable majority before it takes on the might of Modi in 2019 LS polls in a few months.
Rebel candidates have also played spoilsport for the Congress and the BJP in both the states.
The BSP has emerged as a key player in Rajasthan as well as Madhya Pradesh.
With a few seats in its kitty, Mayawati's party is now in a position to drive a hard bargain in both these crucial states. BSP chief Mayawati summoned BSP candidates who seem heading towards victory even before the results were out.
The Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) has got a clear mandate with a huge margin and its gamble to dissolve the assembly and go for snap polls has been proved right.
On the contrary, the Cong-TDP-CPI alliance gamble failed to capture the imagination of the electorate in the newly-formed state.
The Congress must do some soul-searching as to why it is struggling to even inch towards the half-way mark despite the anti-incumbency factor favouring them in states where the BJP has been in power for three successive terms.
It did well to tap into the anti-incumbency in only Chhattisgarh, where it swept the polls with a two-third majority. Why the Congress failed to tap into the anti-incumbency factor in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh is a matter of concern for the grand old party.
Instead of doing a critical analysis of the results, the party should not try to cling on to the controversy over Electronic Voting Machines and rigging charges.
It should rather focus more on fixing its organisational weaknesses.
The party also lost Mizoram, its last foothold in northeast, after being in power for 10 years.
The electorate seems to be unequivocally suggesting that governance cannot take a back seat.
The BJP cannot also hide behind the anti-incumbency factor to justify its massive fall in seats – more than 50 in MP, nearly 90 in Rajasthan and nearly three dozen in Chhattisgarh.
This means that the party cannot take the electorate for granted in the Lok Sabha polls and bank on just the popularity of Modi in 2019.
Madhya Pradesh had elected 26 BJP lawmakers out of 29 seats in 2014 while it won all the 25 seats in Rajasthan.
A repeat performance is badly needed for the saffron party at the national level but the chances of that are clearly bleak in the present scenario.
And making up for these probable losses elsewhere would be a herculean task.
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