The Congress failed to open its account in the Delhi Assembly polls for the second straight election as it registered its worst-ever performance in the national Capital. The party, which was in power in the city from 1998 to 2013 under the leadership of Sheila Dikshit, secured less than 5% of the votes polled.

Sixty-three of its 66 candidates lost their deposits, reported PTI. The party had left the other four seats for ally Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Only three Congress candidates – Arvinder Singh Lovely in Gandhi Nagar, Devender Yadav in Badli, and Kasturba Nagar candidate Abhishek Dutt – managed to save their deposits. “We welcome the mandate given by the people of Delhi with modesty and bowed heads,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said at a press conference, according to Hindustan Times. “We are now more determined to revive the Congress from the grassroots.” Surjewala claimed the loss was not a disappointment. “It has made us more determined,” he added.

Congress MP Pratap Singh Bajwa said voters had the choice of the AAP and his party while choosing candidates opposed to the the BJP’s divisive politics, and they chose the former. “One thing is for sure all parties that are winning state elections, it is because of a leader,” he added. “If people have faith in the leader, that party wins. The BJP never had a face in Delhi. The Congress has to bring in an educated, young face [in Delhi] for the future and keep working hard.”

Former Union minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram said the AAP had won and “bluff and bluster lost”. “The people of Delhi, who are from all parts of India, have defeated the polarising, divisive and dangerous agenda of the BJP,” he tweeted. “I salute the people of Delhi who have set an example to other states that will hold their elections in 2021 and 2022.”

Punjab Congress leader and state minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot revelled in the saffron party’s loss. “We were zero earlier, are zero now, so it’s a BJP defeat not ours,” PTI quoted him as saying. His party colleague and national spokesperson said the Congress should not “justify own defeat, find happiness in BJP defeat, tell themselves that in election wins and losses are cyclic”.