New Delhi: Speaking one after the other, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and deputy Rahul Gandhi owned responsibility this evening for their party's debacle in the general elections.
"Congress has done pretty badly, a lot for us to think about. As vice-president, I hold myself responsible," said Mr Gandhi, smiling. He led the Congress' campaign, criticised as lacklustre when compared to that of the BJP's Narendra Modi, who will be India's next prime minister. (Narendra Modi Wins India. BJP and Allies to Cross 300 Seats.)
Sonia Gandhi spoke in Hindi and said, "The people's verdict is against us... As Congress president I take responsibility for the defeat." (India Decides 2014: Full Coverage)
Neither Gandhi fielded questions after their brief statements. Congress leaders have been quick to shift the blame for any potential loss away from Rahul Gandhi's handling of the campaign. (5 Factors that Helped BJP and Narendra Modi Win the Election)
The Congress has won only two seat in Uttar Pradesh - Sonia Gandhi in Raebareli and Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. India's oldest political party, which ruled at the Centre for the last 10 years, has been reduced to a humiliating double-digit figure in Parliament, its worst showing ever. It is set to win less than 50 seats all over India.
In contrast, the BJP, at over 300, has enough seats for a clear majority on its own; with its allies it will end up with over 330.
Narendra Modi had in his campaign launched a blistering attack on the Gandhi family in what many saw as a direct contest between him and the 43-year-old Mr Gandhi.
The BJP leader repeatedly contrasted his humble past as the low-caste son of a tea seller with Mr Gandhi's privileged and cloistered life in plush districts of the capital.
The Gandhis attacked Mr Modi as a "divisive leader." In the last days of the nine-phase election, Rahul's sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had attempted to infuse some fire in her party's campaign by engaging Mr Modi in a war of words.