It is difficult to see the results of the Assembly elections, particularly the decimation of the Congress in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, as anything but a reflection of a strong anti-Congress sentiment. The Congress' introspection as to its loss of popularity in swathes of India needs to be more complete, and its dependence on its first family as vote winners has begun to show its limits.
However, that is not the only story. Certain other trends are also visible. For one, while this may appear to be a national verdict, each of the states whose results were declared on Sunday voted also on local factors, an important reminder that governance and power in India are now playing an increasingly important role at the state level, and that is being reflected in the patterns of politics.
Second, the Delhi result, in which the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made its spectacular debut in electoral politics, shows that an anti-Congress vote will not translate automatically into a vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when there is a credible alternative available. From that point of view, the BJP too should be concerned.
Indeed, the performance of the AAP is particularly noteworthy. Nothing should take away from the achievement of its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, and of his team in converting a nascent anti-political "movement" into a political party and organisation capable of finding winnable candidates and converting support into votes, and votes into seats.
That is the building block of politics, and for a first-time party to master it is worthy of praise. That said, however, the AAP's performance is about more than the AAP itself. It reflects a desperation for a coherent alternative to the two major national parties, and for a change in the political discourse. The option that the AAP provides may not be to everyone's taste, and there are aspects of its political programme that betray a lack of engagement with modern, reformist economics.
But the promise it offered of an alternative politics, open to those not from political families, as the Congress is accused of being, or from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, as is said of the BJP, clearly resonated.
Going forward, it is true that a few months could be a long time in politics, and so the direct inferences that can be drawn for the general elections in mid-2014 from these polls are limited. But it is clear that the Congress is on the back foot. But, more to the point, the two national parties and indeed all traditional parties in general should be worried by these elections.
The level of dismissal of their claims that was visible in the AAP's performance in the Delhi elections, if replicated elsewhere, means that there is a big vacuum that may be filled - if not by the AAP, then by some other political entrepreneurs. Some might say it is too late for the Congress party, which is struggling under the burden of the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA's) record, to pull up its socks before the general elections.
However, the threat is not just to the Congress, but to all parties that have grown too comfortable with power - even the BJP, if it believes that discontent with the UPA will be sufficient to sweep the party to power.