Shortly after resigning as prime minister in view of the National Democratic Alliance's stunning defeat in the Lok Sabha election, Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday night pledged to "extend our hand of cooperation to the new government in all its endeavours that are in the interest of the nation and the people".
"We have given up office, but not our responsibility to serve the nation. We have lost an election, but not our determination," he said in an address to the nation.
"Victory and defeat are a part of life, which are to be viewed with equanimity," he said.
Vajpayee, who submitted his resignation to President A P J Kalam at Rashtrapati Bhavan, said, "Elections to the 14th Lok Sabha are over. The voters have given their verdict. I accept the verdict."
The PM had a special word of thanks to the people of Jammu and Kashmir for once again reposing their faith in democracy and for giving a firm rebuff to the forces of militancy.
"India has shown its resolve and capability to overcome the challenge of cross-border terrorism," he said.
Referring to the "historic" peace process with Pakistan, he said "it will remain my lifelong wish to see that we herald a new chapter of peace, cooperation and friendship in South Asia, with the People's Republic of China and with other nations in the world".