Despite running an aggressive campaign, the Congress lost in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh and with this, the party has also lost its presence in the core Hindi heartland ahead of the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections, and exists only in Himachal Pradesh now.
The massive setback has also dented the Congress in the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc for bargaining more seats for the Lok Sabha elections.
A party leader, who is yet to recover from the shock of the loss in the three states, and wishing not to be named, said that the results are a "very big setback" to us.
He said that the party was hopeful of forming its government in Chhattisgarh, where it found no problem in the last five years and there was no anti-incumbency visible or report that came to the party leadership.
Commenting on the results in Madhya Pradesh, the party leader said that Rahul Gandhi had earlier this year said that we will get 150 seats in the state on the basis of the reports from the state.
"However, things did not go in our way and we were reduced to much fewer seats in this election, which is quite surprising," he said.
The party leader pointed out that the main reason for failure of tasting success in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan was because party's strategist Sunil Kanugolu and his team were not given free hand by the leaders like Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot.
"Whereas, he had complete independence in Telangana to give proper report to the party and also suggest ways for campaigns and the state leadership agreed to them and gave them all the help they required," the party leader said.
Even the state leadership acted on the internal surveys conducted by Kanugolu's team, which was not the case in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where the senior leaders did not come on board with him that led to such a massive defeat despite the mood being in favour of Congress, he said.
The party leader also highlighted that differences appeared between Kanugolu's team in Rajasthan after he gave the internal survey of the party suggesting that there are many sitting MLAs and Ministers who will not be able to win in the desert state.
However, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot denied the anti-incumbency against his MLAs and Ministers on the basis of the surveys conducted by his strategy team DesignBoxed, the party leader said.
"This is where the difference lies," he said, adding that the survey prepared by Kanugolu's team was an honest one which highlighted the problems, which was ignored.
The party leader said that now with complete sweep in the Hindi heartland, the road ahead of the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha election will not be easy.
He agreed that the INDIA bloc seat sharing talks, which were paused in view of the Assembly polls, will have its bearing on the same as it will not be in position for doing hard bargain from other parties citing no or very small presence in Hindi heartland or North Indian states.
The Congress was hopeful of returning to power in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and was also hopeful to wrest power from the BJP in Madhya Pradesh.
"But the results have gone completely different from what was expected. It is a tough time for us, but we will find some ways to come over and take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections," he added.
Congress had last year lost in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. In Bihar, Congress is a part of the Grand Alliance of the RJD and JD(U) and in Jharkhand, the Congress is part of the coalition government with JMM.
(With inputs from IANS)