For any election result that was as skewed and one-sided as what came out on May 23, the president of an erstwhile largest party of the nation, perhaps the oldest too, would have retreated into a shell.
But there was Rahul Gandhi absorbing the pressure and facing the heat from the media when his party, the Indian National Congress, was staring at a crushing defeat at the hands of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"I accept Congress' defeat," said Rahul Gandhi, even as his face drooped to his knees and eyes said a story of disappointment.
When asked if he had understood the reasons behind the drubbing, Rahul Gandhi said it was not essential to the purpose of the media briefing to ponder over the possible reasons.
A dignified reply to, well, a not-so-daft question.
Would any other leader do it -- face the media despite the know that he was being considered the culprit? You would't find many takers.
Even as Rahul Gandhi and the Opposition struggled to create a counter narrative to the BJP's Modi wave, he tackled all personal attacks on him and his family with love, and, in fact, facts.
An introvert by nature, Rahul Gandhi opened up to the world of histrionics in Parliament only recently when he went and gave Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- his arch rival -- a bear hug. He even winked at him -- and the media took notice.
The Gandhi scion was then bombarded with questions on his sudden liking towards the BJP leader. But his graceful confessions of love for PM Modi took everyone by surprise. Not that India expected the blossoming of love between them; the sheer tact of diverting a question of a person who was referred to as 'Pappu' for the longest time was a happy surprise.
"I love Modi jee; it's just that he doesn't reciprocate the emotion," Rahul said.
Ahem! Eik tarfaa pyaar ki taaqat! India loves that!
And what amasses more 'taaqat' and tact than unrequited love? A smile -- the loyal weapon of the Gandhis. Or so proved by Ramdas Athawale's latest barbs at Rahul Gandhi on the third day of the 17th Lok Sabha's first session.
A video that has emerged online -- a clip of Ramdas Athawale congratulating BJP MP Om Birla on being chosen as the Lok Sabha Speaker -- shows the Republican Party of India (RPI) leader digressing to kind-of insulting Rahul on his presence in the Lower House.
Athawale goes on to say: "Rahul jee aapko wahaan baithhne ka mauka mila issiliye aapko badhaai deta hoon. Jab aapki satta thhi tab main aapke saath thha. Chunaav ke pehle mujhe Congress waale bol rahe thhay idhar aao, idhar aao. Maine hawa ka rukh dekha ki woh Modi jee ki taraf ja rahi hai. Toh main yahaan aa gaya."
This roughly translates to: "I congratulate you, Rahul jee, for having got the chance to sit inside the Lok Sabha (alluding to his loss from Amethi, and sitting there as MP from Kerala's Wayanad). When you were in power, I was with you. But before the elections began, I surmised the mandate would turn in PM Modi's favour. So, I decided to be on their side."
In response, there was no visible response from Rahul Gandhi's side. The Congress president kept smiling -- even with PM Modi bursting into peals of laughter.
Rahul's mother, Sonia Gandhi, mumbled a few words into his ears -- probably asking what he was trying to say. She also began smiling and so did the rest of the Congress leaders.
Point in reference -- Athawale has never been easy on the Gandhis. He once advised the Congress president to get married in order to become stronger. And said this was a 'friend'ly advice to the politico.
Another point in reference -- it was a happy day for Rahul Gandhi; he turned 49 on Wednesday.
But reacting to the jibe would have meant becoming a part of the depressingly debased electioneering that the Lok Sabha polls have been.
The Gandhi scion had refused to be drawn into the ugly slugfest -- earlier -- and he politely declined the invitation on his 49th birthday too.
Long live, grace and dignity, and, of course, Rahul Gandhi. Happy birthday!
TRIVIA ABOUT RAMDAS ATHAWALE
The 59-year old leader is popular for providing comic relief during serious parliamentary discussions with his wisecracks. He made headlines for the induction of actor Rakhi Sawant into the RPI and for being a potential housemate on the controversial TV show, Bigg Boss.