"...but India has won"
PM said he was leaving with the satisfaction that India was "stronger and more prosperous" than before.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said on Thursday that he was accepting the people's verdict and leaving with the satisfaction that India was "stronger and more prosperous" than when he had taken over the reins of government six years ago.
In his farewell address to the nation Thursday night after submitting his resignation to President APJ Abdul Kalam, Vajpayee said: "My party and alliance may have lost, but India has won."
He said the power of democracy was a pride for the country, "something which we must always cherish, preserve and further strengthen".
Saying that victory and defeat were a part of life, Vajpayee said he would extend a "hand of cooperation" to the new government "in all its endeavours that are in the interests of the nation and the people.
Although history would judge what his government had achieved during its tenure, Vajpayee said, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government reflected the country's "ethos of unity in diversity".
"We strengthened Indian democracy by demonstrating that coalition governance can be stable, and also successfully deal with the challenges before the nation."
The outgoing prime minister, speaking with great dignity and showing no signs of bitterness at his coalition's unexpected defeat, specially thanked the people of Jammu and Kashmir for once again reposing their faith in democracy and for rebuffing the forces of militancy.
"India has shown its resolve and capability to overcome the challenge of cross-border terrorism. India has also embarked on a historic peace process with our neighbour," Vajpayee stated.
He said that it was his 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 of the world."