Spiralling prices of everyday commodities and factionalism have been identified by Congress functionaries as the two biggest reasons for the party’s disastrous showing in the just-concluded elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi. Clean, good governance, on the other hand, helped the Congress keep power in the north-eastern Mizoram, the functionaries said.

For Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who turned 67 on Monday, it was a grim birthday as she presided over a review meeting at which general secretaries of the five States — Mohan Prakash, B.K. Hariprasad, Gurudas Kamat, Shakeel Ahmad and Luizinho Faleiro — submitted their reports to her. Then came a close to two-hour discussion, described by one of the participants as “frank, open, no holds barred.”

If Ms. Gandhi expressed her “disappointment” at the “dismal” results, more than one person at the meeting referred to the party’s failure in not projecting Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia effectively enough as its chief ministerial candidate and to raging factionalism in Madhya Pradesh, a State dominated by a range of high-profile leaders including general secretary Digvijaya Singh and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.

Mr. Prakash pointed out that though the Congress’ share of votes in Madhya Pradesh went up by over four per cent, it was neutralised by the BJP’s rising by over seven per cent.