M A I N   N E W S

Vajpayee resigns; Cong set to form government
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 13
On an astounding day when all predictions came crashing down causing bewilderment in the BJP and Congress camps, the mantle of regaining the seat of power on Raisina Hill fell on the shoulders of the main Opposition party with a hoary history of more than 110 years.

Even as Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee submitted the BJP-led NDA government’s resignation to President APJ Abdul Kalam here this evening as they had failed to secure the people’s mandate, the country is gearing itself to anoint the first non-India born Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the helm of another coalition grouping of secular forces.

Mr Kalam accepted Mr Vajpayee’s resignation and asked him to continue till alternative arrangements are made. He is all set to be elected as the leader of the Opposition in the 14th Lok Sabha.

Significantly, the electorate has rejected the foreign origin issue of Mrs Gandhi raised vociferously by the BJP and its allies thus overwhelmingly accepting that she is a citizen of this country and an inalienable part of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

The Congress is all set to stake its claim to form the next government with its pre-poll allies and the support of the Left parties which have exceeded the tally of more than 60 seats in the House of the People for the first time since Independence.

Even as the Congress crosses the magic figure of the 272 simple majority mark with its allies and backing of the Left parties, it does not need to hanker for support from others in the secular formation. But the turnaround for the party by striking pre-poll alliances has paid rich dividends.

The results for the 539 seats for which counting was held, the Congress had improved its individual tally considerably and along with its allies had touched 216 seats while the BJP and its allies were under the 200 mark with 186 seats. The others which included the Left parties enjoyed 137 seats.

Support has been pouring in for the Congress from non-NDA parties and any trepidation about Mrs Gandhi being the Prime Minister has vanished in thin air. This is evident from the loud averments of the Samajwadi Party, which has emerged as the single largest entity in Uttar Pradesh contributing the maximum number of 80 seats to the Lok Sabha, as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party.

The DMK heading the Democratic Progressive Front in Tamil Nadu which has made a clean sweep along with its allies by obliterating the AIADMK which failed to open its account will extend support to the Congress from outside.

For the Congress, its performance in the Narendra Modi ruled Gujarat where it won 12 out of the 26 Lok Sabha seats has been an eye opener and a harbinger of its destiny taking an unbelievable upturn. The party’s virtual clean sweep in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh was heartening for its leaders, most of them had their hearts in their mouth till the trends left no room for an iota of doubt.

Earlier in the day, Mr Vajpayee firmly told his party colleagues in the forenoon that the question of forming a government did not arise if the NDA fell below the 250 mark. As the benchmark had been set and the emerging trends showed that the vote was stacked heavily against the BJP, their leaders meekly threw in the towel. The RSS insisted that the defeat was the result of the BJP not vigorously pursuing its ideology as the development agenda had bombed because it had failed to touch the lives of the poor.

Acknowledging that whatever the NDA had got was because of Mr Vajpayee’s stature and personality, they were categoric of going back to the people with the core issues of Ram Mandir, abrogation of Article 370 and having a uniform civil code coupled with ressurecting cultural nationalism.

Before the Prime Minister drove to Rashtrapati, he held the customary Cabinet meeting which adopted a resolution putting on record the progress made by the NDA in all spheres.

As a pall of gloom descended on the BJP and its allies, the Congress has awakened to a new start after a decade that the people have meted out a resounding riposte to the communal forces in the country.



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