Ignoring the clamour in the party to affix blame for the poll debacle, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh on Saturday said no individual could be singled out for it but took on himself the onus for the defeat.
"The people's verdict in the election was not according to our expectations, but I take blame for the poor results. But it is not right to say that is a nationwide defeat," Singh said in his opening remarks at the party's crucial two-day national executive - its first meeting after the Lok Sabha poll results.
Deflecting criticism against the party's key poll strategist Arun Jaitley, who was absent from the crucial meet as he is vacationing abroad, Singh said: "The BJP believes in collective responsibility for victory and defeat, and there is no need to single out one person for the poor showing."
His tacit reference was to party seniors, including Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, who have all called for fixing the blame for the poor Lok Sabha poll results. They have held Jaitley, though not directly, responsible for the debacle since he was the party's chief poll manager.
The BJP came crashing down to 116 seats from the 138 it won in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
Singh said in the BJP, success and failure were collectively shared.
He then added: "Yes, if anyone feels that any person should take the responsibility, then as the president of the party, I am willing to take this responsibility."
On the poll results, the BJP chief, said: "There is a widespread propaganda that the BJP has got defeated nationwide. I do not accept this, because if we analyse the results regionally, then the results are varied and not uniform from state to state."
He acknowledged that while the party was "surprised" by the results, it was "certainly not demoralised".
"Why have such results come? This is definitely a subject of serious introspection and analysis for us. At every step we will undertake introspection and analysis," he added.
Singh maintained that there would be no compromise on ideology, and added that the party does not regret the issues raised during campaigning like communal reservation as they were in the "country's welfare".
Stating the elections indicated that the country was clearly shifting towards "bi-polar politics', Singh said if the party expands its organisation and takes effective steps then "tomorrow will definitely be ours".
The BJP president said the party's commitment to building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and implementing a uniform civil code was reiterated in the party manifesto, and in the coming years it would need to more effectively convince people about these issues.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, addressing a press conference, said the election result was not a referendum on the BJP's concept of Hindutva as it had won seats in many places.
"Hindutva is eternal, liberal, tolerant and a geo-cultural concept. It also represents the basic character of India," Prasad said, adding that the party feels that it was not able to "articulate it properly and we need to interpret it in a contemporary idiom."
"Hindutva occupies the same esteemed space in the politics of the BJP as the constitution of India occupies in the politics of the country. Yes I accept that we may not have been able to disseminate our position on these issues among the people as effectively as it was required in the present context," he said quoting Singh.
"Perhaps we need to present our views in a better and more contemporary context. For this, it is necessary that we evaluate our organisational structure, campaign and strategy," Singh added.