Rahul, Sonia accept electoral drubbing

While forced to acknowledge a humiliating drubbing, Indian National Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, party vice president, failed to give credit to their opponents who won by a thumping margin in India's just-concluded general election.

Commentators said a graceful word or two might have been in order, if only to make the party look generous in defeat. But no such words were forthcoming, as neither mother nor son made even a reference to the Bharatiya Janata Party of Narendra Modi.

"The Congress faced its rivals in the elections on the basis of policies and principles. Despite that, we failed to get the majority we had thought we would get," said Sonia Gandhi in a brief media appearance with Rahul.

"We believe that in a democracy winning and losing is part of the game. This time the mandate is clearly against us. I accept the mandate with humility. I hope that the incoming government will not compromise with the interests of society. I want to congratulate the new government,"

Sonia said.

"The Congress will always fight and never compromise on the interests of the people. I want to thank the people for their votes, and as president of the party I accept responsibility for its defeat," she added.

Rahul Gandhi, with a fixed smile on his face, said he wanted to congratulate the new government, but he too did not mention either the BJP or Modi.

"They have been given the mandate by the people; I want to wish them the best. The Congress has done pretty badly, and there is a lot to think about. As vice-president I take the responsibility for the party's defeat in the Lok Sabha polls," he said, in what some commentators observed was almost a verbatim repeat of what he said after the party's defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections in November last year.

They then quickly left, declining to take any questions from the assembled media persons – making some of them wonder if a press statement would not have sufficed for these few words.

Others say if even this massive defeat would end the sense of hubris in a party that is notorious for its lack of internal democracy and its sycophancy to a single family; and whether they would act equally churlish as the next main opposition party.