Indian media: Election defeat 'humiliating' for Congress

India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters celebrate the party's victory in various state Assembly elections in Allahabad, India, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013.
Image caption The BJP's supporters celebrated their victory in many parts of the country

Newspapers see India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) win in four key state assembly elections as a "major setback" for the ruling Congress Party.

Analysts believe "poor governance" led to the BJP's win in the northern states of Rajasthan and Delhi, and central states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

"If there is a message that binds Sunday's set of four assembly poll verdicts, it is that of the voter's alienation from the Congress, her growing anger with the party," says The Indian Express.

The Hindu says the defeats are "humiliating" for the Congress.

"The take-out for all political parties must be that in modern, aspirational India populism can no longer substitute for governance and wise economic management," The Times of India notes.

Pundits and papers also feel that the results do not show encouraging signs for the Congress ahead of the 2014 general elections.

"If these results are a precursor to the general elections, then the Congress has to do a lot more than listen to messages," the Hindustan Times writes.

The paper adds that "such victories help in generating a buzz and a public perception that the BJP is on a winning streak".

The Indian Express argues that "these results signal that a strong state leadership combined with Narendra Modi's vigorous prime ministerial campaign could add up to a formidable combination" in the run up to the general elections.

The 'Delhi experiment'

The BJP and its allies have won 32 seats in Delhi - just four short of the majority needed to form a government.

Analysts give credit to the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) - Common Man's Party - for keeping both the incumbent Congress, which has a dismal tally of eight, and the BJP away from power.

Image caption Arvind Kejriwal, centre, has denied the possibility of forming any alliance with the BJP or the Congress.

The AAP, led by former civil servant Arvind Kejriwal, was born out of a strong anti-corruption movement that swept India two years ago.

The Asian Age says the AAP's "spectacular performance took everyone's breath away" and that "seems the real story of these elections".

Though the new party has won 28 seats and is in no position to form a government, many describe its emergence as a "new experiment" in Indian politics.

For The Indian Express, the "standout story of these assembly elections is the AAP that came out of nowhere to wind up a hair's breadth behind the BJP in Delhi, reducing the three-time incumbent Congress to a pitiful third".

The DNA newspaper says the anti-corruption party "has injected a new idea into the country's fractured polity, an idea likely to sprout in the 2014 general election and blossom thereafter".

The paper adds that this "crowd-funded" party's "sterling performance" shows that "the new voter is willing to forget his or her myriad class-caste-religious identities and believes it is time to replace the venal system with one that is both transparent and effective".

And finally, in another debut, the elections saw a "small but significant" start of the None of the Above (Nota) voting option, The New Indian Express reports.

The new polling option is meant to "empower the voter to reject all candidates", The Times of India reports, adding that it got a mere 0.63% of the votes in Delhi, followed by 1.9% in Madhya Pradesh and 1.92% in Rajasthan, though its tally was higher in the insurgency-affected Chhattisgarh, where 3.07% chose Nota.

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