“The joke goes that until last week India had no government; now it has no opposition,” the Economist says. The ruling Congress Party was humiliated in the polls, its worst electoral defeat ever. It won a paltry 44 seats, not even enough to lead the opposition bench. On the day of the results, party members looked distraught. Both Rahul Gandhi and Sonia, his mother and party president, submitted their resignations, which were duly rejected by the party committee. The entire exercise seemed staged, since the Gandhis’ hold over the party is absolute. Indeed, some claim the party lost so badly merely because it chose the wrong family member to be the frontrunner (Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul’s younger sister, is widely seen as a more charismatic and popular leader).But Congress’s electoral defeat has been long in the making for a number of reasons: bad governance, corruption, a lethargic economy, nepotism, and more. Even though many of these are systemic problems in India and not entirely the party’s fault, voters “were turned off by Congress’s drift and venality, and its preference for welfare handouts over fostering opportunity. They want the chance of self-advancement that Mr Modi, a tea-seller’s son, both represents and promises,” The Economist explained.Where does Congress go from here? Can the Gandhis lead the party back to victory after such a disastrous showing? Rahul Gandhi led a poor, bumbling campaign from start to finish. Should the party continue to place its faith in him? Should Congress leaders outside of the family be promoted, or should Priyanka seek a greater role? At the very least, it’s clear that Congress will need more than the clout of the Gandhis to win voters over next time round.Congress may also need to target a different type of voter from those who make up the majority of its electorate. It has focused overwhelmingly on rural voters, but young, urban citizens have begun voting for the BJP in droves. As The Economist points out, Indians seem to prefer opportunity over handouts; the young, the urban, and the educated handed Modi his victory because he promised the economic reform that Congress had long failed to deliver.There’s at least a slight upside to losing an election: The Congress party will be relieved of the responsibility of ruling and now has a chance to re-evaluate its priorities. The electorate of the world’s biggest democracy has spoken. What else can its venerable old party do but listen?