New Delhi: In what is the clearest sign of a complete meltdown for the Congress, 63 of its 66 candidates in Delhi Assembly seats lost their deposits, according to the final results on the Election Commission website on Tuesday. Except Devender Yadav in Badli, Abhishek Dutt in Kasturba Nagar and Arvinder Singh Lovely in Gandhi Nagar, the others fielded by the Congress lost their security deposits.
Candidates lose their election deposit if they fail to secure less than one-sixth of the total votes polled, or 16.67% of the total votes, in their constituencies. The Congress on Tuesday managed just 4.26% of the total votes, in line with the prediction of many pollsters. Since the restoration of the Delhi Assembly, which was dissolved in 1991 when it was turned into a Union Territory, this is the lowest that the party has sunk.
The best performance among the candidates fielded by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which fought in alliance with the Congress on four seats, is by its nominee in Burari who secured a little more than 2,278 votes, or 1.02% of the votes, according to the latest data available on the EC website.
Among the Congress party’s other best bets, AK Walia (a three-time minister in Sheila Dikshit’s cabinet) polled 3.46% votes in his constituency of Krishna Nagar. Shivani Chopra, daughter of Congress's Delhi unit Subhash Chopra, polled 4.64% votes in Kalkaji.
Poonam Azad, the wife of Congress's Poorvanchal face and senior leader Kirti Azad, polled barely 2% of the votes. Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi had held a joint rally in the constituency.
Senior Congress leader Tarvinder Singh Marwah, a three-time MLA, polled 15% of the votes in a constituency where Rahul Gandhi also held a rally.
Adarsh Shastri, who shifted to the Congress from AAP, polled slightly under 5% votes in Dwarka.
In the reserved constituency of Patel Nagar, former Union minister and MP Krishna Tirath polled under 3%, or around 3,000, of the votes.
A senior minister in three Sheila Dikshit cabinets, Haroon Yusuf polled around 5,000 votes, or 4.73%, of the total votes polled in his constituency of Ballimaran from where he has won five times.
Alka Lamba, who switched from Congress to AAP and back to the Congress, secured just 5% of the votes from Chandni Chowk where she won in 2015 on an AAP ticket.
From the peak of around 50% vote share, which the Congress got in the 2003 Assembly elections under Dikshit, its fall to under 5% has been quite dramatic. For the second time in a row, the Congress appears set to not even open its account. Poll data from 2015 onwards shows that the AAP has grown at the expense of the Congress and other smaller parties.
Many Congress leaders and spokespersons reacted to their party's drubbing on social media sites.
"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 a part of the system, I too take my share of responsibility," said Congress spokesperson Sharmistha Mukherjee.
A few observers had suggested, based on the Congress’s surprisingly creditable performance in the municipality elections and its 22% vote share (far higher than AAP’s) in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, that the party was again on the rise. However, several media reports spoke about the dissatisfaction among workers, with the no-show of senior Congress leaders during the Assembly poll campaigning.
Apart from a handful of rallies in Old Delhi, Jangpura and Sangam Vihar, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi remained largely absent from the capital. At the same time, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held around 50 'nukkad sabhas' and roadshows for the BJP and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal was part of a similar number of public appearances.