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No one will resign: Venkaiah

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
May 14, 2004 17:52 IST
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Bharatiya Janata Party president M Venkaiah Naidu has ruled out the possibility of resignations by the party's top office bearers and campaign managers because of the humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha election.

"This was a Congress culture where someone was shunted out after a poll debacle. We have accepted the moral responsibility collectively," he said.

The BJP could manage only 138 seats compared to 1999, when it won 182. In fact, this time the BJP and its National Democratic Alliance allies could only get 185 seats.

He admitted that the results had shaken up the BJP and the NDA leadership. "Even the media persons had not expected this kind of results. There was a talk that we might fall short of the number [simple majority, 272] and some new allies might join the NDA, but the voter has given his verdict and we accept the defeat in all humility," he said.

The BJP parliamentary board, presided over by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, met in the morning to take stock of the situation at 7, Race Course Road. This was followed by another meeting at the party headquarters at Ashoka Road.

Naidu has directed the BJP state units to find out the reasons for the debacle. "After we get reports from the state units the parliamentary board will discuss the causes of the defeat and take corrective measures so that we can galvanise the party," he said.

Asked if Vajpayee would be the Leader of the Opposition, Naidu said the parliamentary board would soon take a formal decision in this regard. "Vajpayeeji continues to be the leader of the National Democratic Alliance even now."

He claimed that the Congress had not got the mandate of the people. "The vote is against us, but it is not in favour of the Congress party either. They had not projected the leader of the new government. So they cannot claim that the mandate is for [Congress president] Sonia Gandhi to become prime minister of India. Even if the other parties support and she does become prime minister, we would continue to raise this issue in Parliament," he said.

He ruled out any boycott of Parliament in case Gandhi became PM. "By that logic we should leave the country. No we are not doing that."

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi