The Bhartiya Janata Party on Thursday told Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung that it cannot form a government in Delhi as it lacked majority support in the 70-seat assembly, raising the spectre of fresh elections.
Chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan said the Bharatiya Janata Party, which won 31 seats and has the support of an Akali Dal legislator, would prefer to occupy the opposition benches.
The doctor-politician told the media that he told Jung that "in the absence of a clear mandate, it will be better for us that we sit in the opposition".
"As you know, we are four short of a majority. We have no alternative... We seek the forgiveness of the people for our decision," he said after his over half-an-hour-long meeting with the Lt. Governor.
He said the BJP should not be held responsible if its inability to form a government leads to fresh elections in the national capital.
"We are not responsible because it is the circumstances which are forcing a repoll," he said.
While the BJP ousted the Congress from power in Rajasthan and retained Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Delhi elections threw up a fractured verdict.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took the second spot with 28 seats in a dream electoral debut. The Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 years, was crushed and ended up with only eight seats.
Harsh Vardhan said he believed the Lt. Governor had a mandate to explore government formation within a week.
He added that the BJP was ready for another electoral battle.
Asked if his party would support the AAP, Harsh Vardhan said: "The AAP has already declared that it will neither support nor take the backing of any party to form a government in Delhi and would prefer a fresh mandate."
"We will give whatever assistance is required from our side," he said.
Harsh Vardhan said he believed in the politics of values and had no desire to induce members of other political parties to back the BJP in government formation.
"We have always believed that politics should be based on honesty and values," he said.
In his letter to Jung, Harsh Vardhan said: "It is the wise people of Delhi who have given us a mandate to rule. It is because of this that the BJP has emerged as the largest party."
Asked whether the AAP and the Congress could form a government, Harsh Vardhan said: "We don't want to disturb any party. Our main aim is to serve the people."