'PM to resign today'
NDA convenor George Fernandes has said PM Vajpayee will resign on Thursday evening.
Accepting defeat in the elections, Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee will resign on Thursday evening, NDA convenor George Fernandes said.
The NDA also decided to sit in the Opposition as it has not got the people's mandate, Fernandes and BJP president M Venkiah Naidu told reporters after an hour-long meeting at the Prime Minister's residence.
Vajpayee has convened a meeting of the Cabinet at 5.30 pm after which he will go to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to hand over his resignation to President APJ Abdul Kalam.
Naidu said Vajpayee would continue to be the leader of the NDA.
After his resignation, the Prime Minister will make a broadcast to the nation.
The meeting decided on this course as the constituents felt that the NDA had not got the people's mandate.
"We have decided as NDA to sit in the Opposition and to accept with humility the mandate of the people to play the role of the opposition," Naidu said adding the BJP will not stake its claim to form the Government.
He said "the message is clear and we have decided to respect the mandate of the people."
Fernandes said NDA will remain and it will meet on the eve of Parliament session.
Others who attended the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Finance Minster Jaswant Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Pramod Mahajan, besides Naidu and Fernandes.
Naidu said that Vajpayee will remain the leader of NDA and BJP but the issue of the Leader of the Opposition will be decided by the newly elected MPs.
Asked what was the reason for the poll debacle, he said: "we will examine and analyse all possible aspects of the defeat".
He also asked the exit poll analysts and opinion poll makers to analyse where they went wrong.
Fernandes said it was a totally unexpected result.
Asked whether the party suffered in Gujarat because of riots and mismanagement thereafter, he said: "there can be many reasons and we have to go into each one and take corrective steps".
On the debacle of NDA in Bihar, he said: "it is really unfortunate for Bihar that such a result has come."