Stunned by its poor showing in the assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has gone into an introspective mood with its leaders admitting they will have to review strategy for the upcoming general elections.
Although they are putting up a brave face, BJP leaders admit privately that their analyses have gone hopelessly wrong and that they had failed to derail the Congress in the manner they wanted to.
Although the sweeping win in Madhya Pradesh and the narrow victory in neighbouring Chhattisgarh are happy news, the BJP knows it has lost in the country's biggest state Rajasthan and has been routed in Delhi.
The Delhi verdict has stunned the party.
The BJP, a party hoping to take power following the Lok Sabha polls early next year, had pinned enormous hopes on Delhi, a mini India whose mood was expected to reflect the electorate of the entire country.
But despite soaring food prices in a city of millions of poor, the Congress swept back to power in the national capital for a third five-year term, dealing a body blow to the BJP.
The BJP had thought that raking up the Congress-led governments' failure to check the Mumbai terror massacre and an aggressive campaign against the arrests of Hindu activists following the Malegaon bombings would result in good dividends. It did not happen that way.
Disappointed BJP leaders are now pinning the blame for the rout in Delhi on Vijay Kumar Malhotra, a veteran who was pitted as the chief ministerial candidate vis-a-vis incumbent Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
"The mood is sombre at the party headquarters. Senior leaders have started analysing the factors that led to the debacle in Delhi and Rajasthan," a party leader said.
"It is clear that projecting Malhotra as chief ministerial candidate proved to be a strategic blunder. In Rajasthan, bitter rivalry in the party cost us dearly," said a senior BJP leader.
"The party is having a sigh of relief that it could manage to put up a good performance in Madhya Pradesh and hung on to Chattisgarh," he added.
BJP president Rajnath Singh admitted that the results in Delhi were "quite unexpected ... shocking". In Rajasthan, he added, the results have failed to match the expectations.
BJP sources said the party leadership was set to review the effectiveness of its poll planks of "terrorism" and "inflation".
"We raised these two issues in our campaign, especially the issue of terrorism. But it didn't seem to have paid off well electorally," a senior BJP leader told IANS.
"We are definitely going to have a relook at our strategy of identifying and projecting campaign issues," the party leader added.
"The Delhi results have come as the biggest shock for the leadership," said another leader.
Other sources added that the results also showed that aggressive Hindutva had not proved beneficial for the party.
According to BJP sources, even when the vote count began Monday morning, they were confident of winning in four places -- Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Party leaders had also decided that if they had won in all four states, or at least in three, they would have demanded early Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP now realises that winning new allies ahead of the Lok Sabha ballot will be no more an easy affair. That too is bad news.