The Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 years, on Tuesday 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.
According to the Election Commission, a candidate loses his/her deposit if they get less than the sixth of the total votes polled, meaning that Congress could lose its deposit in all the seats in Delhi. The party had to forfeit its deposit in 62 of the 70 seats in the 2015 elections.
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.
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.
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.
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 the 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 complete 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.
(with additional inputs)