The landslide victory of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections is a particularly difficult one for its rival, the Indian National Congress to accept. For till the time the results were out, UP was considered to be the litmus test for the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre due to some of its tough policy decisions. There was a consensus that citizens will exercise their democratic rights to vote against the Prime Minister and give thumbs up to the Congress and other regional parties.

Unfortunately, for all those who predicted such an outcome there was nothing but an element of surprise in store. The final tally of 324 seats far outnumbered even the most optimistic estimates that predicted a win in around 200 seats for the BJP. This verdict has come as the single biggest jolt to the Grand Old Party which was hoping to revive its fortunes by making a mark in the UP elections.

The verdict in UP has come as a clarion call to the party to re-examine its leadership choices and accept the deterioration of the party at the national level.  The party has not managed to hold on to even the 28 seats that it won in the last election reducing the tally to just nine in the present one. The performance assumes more dismal tones when the fact that this was an election that was fought mainly on the basis of the ‘leadership’ and the mediating skills of the party vice-president Rahul Gandhi is taken into consideration.

It is clear that by voting for BJP, the people delivered not just a verdict for development but also a verdict against dynasty politics. The Congress-Samajwadi Party electoral alliance was more a symbol of privilege than an alliance that had people’s interests at its core. This is especially true for the Congress party at the Centre. Even in the years that the party was in power, the disconnect that it had with the masses remained.

The doling out of numerous welfare schemes did not suffice to understand the nation’s pulse. Its image of a Delhi-centric party that allows the entry of only the rich and powerful has been etched in the minds of people. Also, its fixation with the Gandhi clan even when the nation has spoken against the practice has further dwindled the party’s prospects at the national stage.

The country is in need of leaders who are meritorious and work for the cause of development. The advent of an information flow in the country has ensured that no leader can hide behind the veil of family legacy and stake claim to a role in shaping the nation. The admission of the Congress leadership after the results were declared that there needs to be a “fundamental restructuring” in the party is perhaps the first step in recognising the problem. And it will do good to the party only if it starts from the top.

It has to be noted that it was the same dynasty politics that sowed the seeds of decline of Congress in Uttar Pradesh. The unconstitutional power that Sanjay Gandhi used to wield over the most powerful Congress Chief Minister N.D.Tiwari during the Emergency is a case in point. Hopefully with this election result, the Congress leadership will take its cue from history and usher in the much needed changes at the helm if it has to survive. If it fails to do so, a Congress-mukt Bharat might soon become a reality even without anybody working for it.