The other big message from the results: AAP's failure in Goa & Punjab
Apart from the resurrection of the Narendra Modi wave, the other trend writ large from the Assembly election results is that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has failed to replace the Congress as the main opposition party to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
It is nowhere on the horizon in Goa, and has been pushed back to at least the second spot in Punjab, where the Congress is romping home to victory.
Most exit polls had predicted a decent performance by AAP in Punjab, and that it would open its account in Goa. For Punjab, some observers were even seriously pushing the prospect of AAP's victory, which would have made it the only regional party with two states under its belt.
This would have, in turn, made AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal the pivot of a non-BJP, non-Congress formation for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. All those predictions have crashed like a house of cards.
The Election Commission's latest trends for Punjab show the Congress winning two seats and leading on 72 out of the total 117, with over 38% of the total vote share. AAP is number two with a lead on a mere 22 seats, about 24% of the vote share. The Shiromani Akali Dal is clearly losing power, but has not done as badly as most exit polls had predicted. It still managed a lead on 15 seats, with a nearly 25% vote share – more than AAP's.
Bhagwant Singh Mann, widely perceived as AAP's prospective CM candidate, was trailing behind Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in Jalalabad. AAP's Himmat Singh Shergill was at number three in Majitha, where SAD's Bikram Singh Majithia appeared headed to victory. Majithia was a key target of attack by AAP leaders' campaign against the alleged government-drug dealers' nexus in the state. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had a huge lead in Lambi, where Congress's CM face Captain Amarinder Singh was at number two and AAP's Jarnail Singh at number three.
HS Phoolka was providing AAP some saving grace, leading in Dakha by a narrow margin. For the Congress, Captain was leading in Patiala, Navjot Singh Sidhu in Amritsar East, Pargat Singh in Jalandhar Cantt and Manpreet Singh Badal in Bathinda Urban.
In Goa, Congress had won two seats and was leading on six, while the BJP had won three and was leading on four. AAP's CM candidate Elvis Gomes was trailing at the fourth position in Cuncolim constituency, behind Congress' Clafasio Dias, independent Joaquim Alemao and BJP's Subhash Naik.
CM Laxmikant Parsekar's defeat at the hands of Congress's Dayanand Sopte had already been announced.
The mood in AAP's camp in both states is understandably gloomy, but Kejriwal accepted the people's verdict graciously, and promised to 'continue the struggle'.
जनता का फ़ैसला सर माथे पे। सभी कार्यकर्ताओं ने बहुत मेहनत की। संघर्ष जारी रहेगा।— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 11, 2017
What is clear is that AAP's strategy of taking the BJP's reigning mascot Modi head-on on every issue, big or small, has not paid dividends. The party will need a new strategy, a new language, maybe even new leadership if it wants to succeed in the near future.