Tuesday, August 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

BJP favours simultaneous LS, Assembly poll
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
The Vajpayee government is toying with the idea of synchronising the general elections with the Assembly elections by advancing the Lok Sabha poll to November, this year.

The alacrity with which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today came out in support of Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s idea of clubbing the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections is an indicator to the entire exercise which began few months back.

While the BJP said it was ready for elections any time, sources said that an exercise of weighing pros and cons of holding simultaneous elections was being done so that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee could be convinced of the effectiveness of the move.

The idea of clubbing the Lok Sabha elections with the Assembly poll gathered momentum in the wake of the BJP’s internal assessment of the party’s electoral prospects in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram. In at least four out of these five Congress-ruled states, the BJP’s prospects of wresting the power from the Congress appeared to be bleak, the internal assessment said.

Through holding simultaneous poll, the BJP hoped to convert the electoral exercise into a Vajpayee versus Sonia Gandhi contest, a BJP leader said, adding that national issues and not state issues would dominate the public mood.

By advancing the Lok Sabha poll this year, along with the Assembly elections in five states, the Vajpayee government would not even require a constitutional amendment, a leader said.

The sources said that along with the Lok Sabha poll, the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh could also be advanced to derive political mileage out of the exercise.

While Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu was not in favour of advancing Assembly elections in his state till last week, the sources said he was for it now.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is not averse to an early dissolution of the Utter Pradesh Assembly so that she can increase her strength in the next Assembly.

Since she would be leading a caretaker government, the BSP-BJP alliance would have an upper edge over its political rivals, the sources pointed out.

While the Congress has expressed its readiness to face the elections any time, BJP spokesman V.K. Malhotra told newspersons here that “we are ready to face the elections anytime. The Lok Sabha and Assembly elections could be held in February next, though it is not yet certain. Of course there is need for a national debate on this issue,”

Going a step further, Prof Malhotra said the party supported the idea of holding the elections to the Lok Sabha, Assemblies and local bodies simultaneously as suggested by the Deputy Prime Minister.

“The Deputy Prime Minister has only spoken of the desirability of holding them simultaneously,” he said adding that it was desirable in the larger national interest.

It was Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat who had first floated the idea of simultaneous poll as this would cut down on the cost of holding elections separately.

The spokesman said a lot depended on not just the government, but state legislatures and political parties and it would be good if consensus emerged among the parties, besides the Election Commission. Constitutional amendment would be elusive if there was no consensus among the parties.

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