NEW DELHI - A stunning performance by an upstart anti-corruption party helped topple India's ruling Congress in elections to New Delhi's state assembly on Sunday, only months before the country goes to the polls.
Congress, in power at national level for a decade, was also in danger of losing control of three other state assemblies up for grabs in Sunday's vote count, in a devastating blow ahead of next year's general election.
"All I can say is that the people of Delhi have taken a decision which we respect," said Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as it became clear that Congress would come a distant third in Delhi after 15 years in power.
"We will analyse later what went wrong," added Dikshit, who lost her own seat to Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party (Common People's Party).
Kejriwal, who only started his party a year ago, said his was a "victory of the people".
"I am absolutely confident that finally the country will win, the people will win and democracy will win," added the former civil servant, who has tapped into growing anger over corruption during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's tenure.
Aam Aadmi would even manage to prevent the main Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from winning a majority in New Delhi, according to forecasts from the electoral commission.
The BJP had either won or was leading in 32 of the Delhi assembly seats while Aam Aadmi was in line to capture 26 seats. Congress trailed in third with a forecast tally of just nine, down from 43.
Official forecasts based on partial results showed the BJP would record landslide wins in the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, although it had only a slender lead over Congress in restive Chhattisgarh.
The elections for the four states have been held at different points over the last month but the counting had been postponed until Sunday.