In March this year, the Congress set for itself the aim of reaching out to its ground workers and increasing its vote share in the capital. The party had suffered its worst rout in Delhi in the 2015 Assembly elections, with zero MLAs and a vote share of 9.6 per cent.
On Wednesday, while the party managed to increase its vote share to 21 per cent, it plunged from its existing position in the corporation — coming in third after the BJP and AAP. From 77 seats in the last civic election, the party’s tally is now down to 30.
The party, which expected to make a comeback in the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, secured three out of 63 seats that went to polls on Sunday. This is down from 19 seats that it previously held. In the South and North corporations, where the party had 29 councillors each, the Congress now has 12 and 15 councillors respectively.
Senior party leaders had on Tuesday speculated that while they may not win a majority, the party will retain the seats it previously held. Soon after the early leads were announced, giving the BJP a clear edge, state unit chief Ajay Maken sent his resignation to the party high command and said he “will not hold any position in the party for at least a year”.
Soon after, as the party was pushed to the third spot, AICC in-charge of Delhi, P C Chacko admitted that it was a “humiliating defeat”. Chacko sent in his resignation to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi. “It was a very bad result for the Congress. It was much below our expectation,” Chacko told The Indian Express.
He, however, would not pinpoint a reason. “There might be many reasons… the contributory factors will have to be analysed in depth. But it is much less than our expectation,” he said.
“We were expecting we will get better than AAP because the AAP’s vote bank is the traditional vote bank of the Congress.
And we should get it back. That was what we anticipated. Percentage-wise, we might have gained something,” he said. Last-minute defections hurt the party, which also blamed the release of opinion polls a day before voting for affecting its prospects.
Meanwhile, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, on whose term the Congress based its campaign slogans, said the party’s campaign “was not focussed and aggressive”. “Lot of manifestos came out but I think we needed to tell people… remind them what they were physically feeling about the style of functioning of the MCDs,” she said.
Stating that she was not asked to campaign, Dikshit added that while the entire party was to blame for election results, “it is the leadership which carries the burden. Defeat as well as victory…it is the leadership which carries it. Accolades for winning, burden and responsibility for defeat”.