Faced with its worst ever electoral showing, the first family of the Congress on Friday took responsibility for the defeat. In a fleeting interaction with the media at the party headquarters, both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi separately owned up responsibility for the drubbing.

Reading out from a prepared text in Hindi, Ms. Gandhi congratulated the new government and articulated the hope that it would not compromise on the unity of Indian society and interest of the nation.

Accepting the mandate of the people “with humility,” she said it was a very clear verdict against the Congress. Further, she added that the Congress would remain steadfast to its fundamental principles.

Earlier, her son spoke in a similar vein, congratulating the new government and holding himself responsible for the defeat. Both did not name either the Bharatiya Janata Party or its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, preferring to refer to them as the “new government.”

After making the brief statements, the Gandhis – who were accompanied by crestfallen senior leaders of the Congress — left the party headquarters, which wore the look of a funeral ground with even the usually boisterous media being a tad deferential to the pall of gloom that had descended on the premises. But for the spokespersons who had to be around to provide bytes, no Congress leaders put in an appearance at the party office.

The party had made elaborate arrangements for the media; setting up air-conditioned tents for television networks in anticipation of better tidings though not necessarily a win.

Though there were few takers for the tents as the action was clearly elsewhere, still it was the media which kept the place alive as a deathly silence pervaded 24 Akbar Road from early in the day.