Admitting its defeat, the Congress on Friday said it was "very disappointed" with the poll outcome but hit out at Narendra Modi for pursuing "politics of polarisation".
Not surprisingly, the party offered protect Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, claiming the blame is "collective."
"Going by the election trends that have come so far, we humbly admit the defeat of the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance as people's mandate.... We will introspect and then we will deliberate on our future role as a political party," senior party leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi told reporters at the All India Congress Committee as election trends indicated its worst-ever performance.
Special Coverage: Election 2014
Party leader Meem Afzal attributed the Bharatiya Janata Party's gains to the "huge" amount of money spent by the opposition party in its campaign and "politics of polarisation like that was seen in Muzaffarnagar" as well as "caste card" played by BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
To a question on whether price rise and corruption could have done the party in, he said, "yes it could be an issue."
Union Minister Rajiv Shukla said that the trends are "very disappointing" for the party. "We did not expect this kind of results but in democracy everything happens. This is people's verdict and we will have to abide by that," he said.
Asked whether Rahul Gandhi should take responsibility for the defeat, Shukla said, "It's collective responsibility".
To queries about reasons for such a performance of Congress, the Union minister said that while the Congress-led UPA government brought out a number of schemes for people's welfare, it could not take the message to the people.
"But Narendra Modi sold a dream to the people in which he said that he will get them the Sun, moon and the Jupiter and people believed in all of them and voted for it," Shukla said.
Conceding that its prospects appear "bleak" and that the Congress is read to play the role of a "responsible opposition", party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said that the leads show that that there was an "ambiance" but expressed confidence that the party will stage a come back with blazing guns after taking corrective measures.
The Congress spokesperson said that his party fought the election very well but added "we have to introspect" saying the party has 10-12 corrections to do and there is a "need to look at things in terms of policies, persons and future".
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala stressed the need for introspection.
"The UPA has not done well, we will sit down and introspect," he said.
However, defending his party, he said UPA has played its role of government and opposition in the past. "We have played the role assigned by the people of India effectively, conclusively and will continue to do so," he said.
He exuded confidence that his party will bounce back in Seemandhra.
Senior Congress leader Ashwani Kumar said that the dismal outcome was shocking and said it was time to groom state leadership. "We need to groom leaders in the state and we need to communicate with the aspiration of youth," Kumar said, adding the need was for "hard and honest introspection".
Urging people not to "pin blame on individuals" in reply to a query that whether the Congress leadership would be held responsible for the rout, he said he did not think it necessary for the Congress leadership to resign.
The Congress party is a party with a legacy of 128 years history and it showcased the work done by it unlike the BJP, which successfully cashed on the aspirations of Indians, he said.
"We knew things were not good for us but never imagined in our wildest dreams that they would be this bad. Correctives have to be made," he stressed.
Kumar added, "Our campaign was not as good as BJP. They succeeded in selling hope and aspirations."
Image: Men sit under a banner carrying a portrait of chief of India's Congress party Sonia Gandhi outside the Congress office in New Delhi
Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters