The sense of gloom is palpable. 24 Akbar Road has never been anything like this for the past decade or so. But what's not being seen at the Congress party headquarters is the deep shock at the abysmal numbers that the party has managed in the 2014 general elections.
As spokesperson after spokesperson enters and exits the cubicle of various TV news stations at the party office, the enormity of the loss is yet to sink in. "We accept the verdict. We will look into the reasons for our defeat and improve upon it" said Randeep Surjewala, national spokesperson for the Congress. Even though his expression was deadpan, the psychological scar of the defeat was evident on his face.
Till this morning, party leaders were still hopeful that the Congress would be able to cross the 100 figure barrier. But the writing was on the wall within an hour of counting as the clock struck 9am.
The optimism of the party was fading as quickly as the numbers were stacking in favour of the BJP led NDA. "BJP has to deliver now, they have promised to the people that they will do in 60 months that Congress hasn't been able to do in 60 years," says Congress veteran Motilal Vora who also holds the all important post of party treasurer. "All the promises made have to be delivered, we will watch from the Opposition benches" he adds.
Party insiders believe that Rahul Gandhi is under immense pressure to take responsibility for the party's dismal performance. The entire campaign of the Congress had revolved around the party's vice president. "We have done very badly. I hold myself responsible for the results," announced Rahul. "We also wish the best to the new government," he added.
The body language of the mother-son duo looked a bit uncertain, perhaps both were still trying to deal with the sledgehammer blow delivered by the country's voters. "The mood of the nation was against us. We accept the results with all humility," said Sonia Gandhi, Congress president. "But we hope that the new government will keep with the spirit of the cultural ethos of the country".
The top leadership was in a huddle this morning since the results started trickling in, handing the party it's worst defeat in recent times.
What's more disturbing for them is the perception that party vice president Rahul Gandhi is being perceived as the face responsible for the loss. "We lost because of the poor performance of our government. We could have done better if Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had campaigned earlier," adds a thoughtful Satyavrat Chaturvedi, senior Congress leader. So is that shifting the blame or subtly putting the blame on the Gandhi scion?
But the party is unlikely to learn any lessons from this embarrassing defeat. They seem to be banking on the age old strategy of "wait and watch" where they will play the role of an active Opposition.
That would already give the BJP a head start, as the only thing they need to keep in mind is that of not making mistakes. For the moment, the Congress party needs the very same escape velocity of Jupiter to shake off the body blow delivered by NaMo.
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Updated Date: May 16, 2014 17:51:52 IST