More than five hours into vote counting, the Congress is looking down the barrel. Let alone crossing 100 seats, the Grand Old Party hasn't made sure it will become the official Opposition party in the Lok Sabha.
Rahul Gandhi-led Congress is leading in merely 50 seats now while the BJP is leading in 293. If Congress manages to hold on to the lead position, it will end up with 50 seats, some 5 seats short of the requirement to become the official Opposition party. It will be no consolation that the party will have managed to win some six seats more than its tally in the previous election.
In the last Lok Sabha, Congress made Karnataka strongman Mallikarjun Kharge its parliamentary party leader as it was clear that Rahul Gandhi would not be able to become the Opposition leader.
If the lead position doesn't turn significantly in favour of the Congress, this time too Rahul will be deprived of the Opposition leader's position.
The Congress and its supporters would never have expected such a dismal performance from a party that aimed big and proclaimed the intent to unseat Narendra Modi at any cost.
Though Congress knew that its UPA alliance wasn't going to get enough seats to form a government it still nourished serious hopes of stitching together a coalition with the other anti-BJP regional parties like the SP, BSP, TMC or YSRCP.
What next for Congress? What next for Rahul?
This election result would pose serious questions to Congress and its leadership. In 2014, when Congress was reduced to an all-time low of 44 seats, the 'one-off Modi wave' was pointed out as the reason. This time round, Rahul pulled out all stops in confronting Modi government. Issues ranging from corruption, economy, GST, demonetisation, secularism and the increasing concerns of minorities under the BJP government were all used to the hilt to drum up support across India.
Yet the campaign has failed miserably. It will be interesting to see how Congress and Rahul would explain away the outcome and chart out a future course of action.
In a shocking turn of events Rahul himself is struggling to hold on to his family bastion of Amethi where Smriti Irani is putting up a stiff fight. If you look at where Congress has won seats. it's clear that the support remains only in Kerala, Punjab and in Tamil Nadu, to a certain extent.