Uttar Pradesh Elections: Where does the Congress go from here
The fact that the incumbent Samajwadi Party had conceded the elections was evident when Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav proposed a post poll alliance with fierce rival Mayawati. Despite that, the defeat will take time to sink in for all the three parties at the wrong end of the poll charts.
For the Congress, however, this defeat is bigger than what meets the eye.
After the 2014 debacle, the party has adopted a strategy of following regional parties to counter the BJP wave. Even if that meant it had to become the weaker half of an alliance, the Congress conceded that in order to stay relevant.
While the Punjab result offers some joy, the defeat in the biggest state is a heavy loss for the oldest political party of the country. All of a sudden the slogan 'Congress mukt Bharat' seems more than rhetoric and the party's existential crisis seems more palpable than ever.
After every defeat that the Congress has seen, questions have been raised over its dynastic leadership. Rahul Gandhi has failed to fill in the footsteps of his ancestors and it is only to avoid that assertion that he is still projected as a youth leader.
It seems unlikely that the Congress is going to make any significant changes at the helm though. Despite this being the last chance to do so before the 2019 General Elections , the party seems to be in no mood to change its stance.
That leaves the party vulnerable for the future. It seems unlikely that it will be anywhere close to the majority in the Lok Sabha elections.
It is not as if the party has not seen ups and downs in the past. Be it the split in the Indira Gandhi era or the turbulent 90s, the party has overcome challenges of mammoth proportions. The situation today however, is different.
In the past, the party's position as compared to its rivals was far superior than what it is today. The absence of a united competitor has helped it in the past but that seems to have run out. In the present circumstances, it seems the party is facing its biggest challenge yet.