M A I N   N E W S

Let new govt be in place by April, says PM
Jaswant told to present Vote-on-Account early
Satish Misa
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 12
It became official today when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee told Finance Minister Jaswant Singh to prepare for a Vote-on-Account so that the process of the general election could be completed and a new government was in place by April-end.

Responding to the party’s appeal for holding an early Lok Sabha poll, he said, “I hereby direct Finance Minister Jaswant Singh to present a Vote-on-Account in Parliament at an early date” and hoped that “a new government would be in place by April”.

Sources said the Finance Minister could present a Vote-on-Account by the end of this month. Immediately after Mr Vajpayee’s return to the country after attending the BIMSTEC summit in Thailand in the second week of February, the Union Cabinet would meet and recommend the dissolution of the Lok Sabha which would set the electoral process in motion by the middle of February.

The Cabinet could recommend the dissolution on February 13, a date considered lucky for the party, sources said adding that Mr Vajpayee wants a new government in place by the beginning of April. Since, the present Chief Election Commissioner J. M. Lyngdoh would retire on February 7, the party is confident that the new CEC would work out the election dates in such a way that a new government was installed by the first week of April. Sources added that the multi-phased election would also take care of objections of the NDA partners

The two-day meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party National Executive, which concluded here today, has authorised the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to decide on the dates of the early Lok Sabha elections.

The meeting, which discussed Mission 2004 last evening, took up the political resolution today which stressed upon the significance, political relevance and utility of an early election.

Delegate after delegate spoke on the advantage of an early election which should be held as early as possible. But the views of the various constituents of the National Democratic Alliance should be taken into consideration while deciding the exact dates of the Lok Sabha poll.

Briefing newspersons about the political resolution, Mission 2004, the Prime Minister’s address and Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani’s intervention, BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu said a calendar of the campaign would be ready by tomorrow.

The party’s campaign would begin on January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and at least 100 rallies would be held across the country by the time the official notification of the general election comes out.

Mr Naidu also announced the setting up of three committees. The campaign committee convener would be general secretary Pramod Mahajan. The second committee, headed by former BJP treasurer Ved Prakash Goel, would try to mobilise resources for the election and another committee, headed by Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley, would prepare a vision document that would inform about the country’s future in the next five years. The other members of these committees would be announced later, the BJP president said.

In reply to a question, Mr Naidu said the BJP would prefer simultaneous elections for the Assembly and the Lok Sabha. The Andhra Pradesh Assembly election should also be held along with the Lok Sabha as there was no point in holding separate elections since the time gap was too short.

The four-page political resolution has praised Mr Vajpayee’s leadership, saying, “Destiny has placed the responsibility of shaping India’s future in BJP’s hands.”

The resolution also indulges in Congress bashing, saying that a victory of the Congress would mean a return to instability. While the NDA victory would mean a faster economic growth, its defeat would result in stagnation and regression, the resolution said.

To a question on the BJP’s action plan for the minorities, Mr Naidu said a sustained effort would be undertaken to have a dialogue with these sections so that any misconception about the party could be removed.

Earlier, the Prime Minister told the meeting that the “world has come to recognise us as the dominant and guiding constituent of Indian politics” and “all misconceptions and motivated propaganda about our party have been belied”.

“The BJP is not merely a political party, but a movement for social transformation”, he said, adding, “we will seek a renewed and larger mandate to build a strong and prosperous India”.

Mr Advani, in his short intervention, told the meeting that the election would be fought with a clear vision and winning strategy. 


PMK pulls out of NDA govt

Chennai, January 12
The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), the only constituent of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre in Tamil Nadu, today quit the alliance and decided to pull out its two ministers from the Council of Ministers.

The PMK founder-leader, Dr S Ramadoss, announced the much-awaited decision at a crowded press conference here, after an emergency meeting of the party’s Political Affairs Committee.

He said the PMK decided to quit the NDA as the BJP had decided to advance the Lok Sabha elections contrary to the wish expressed by the party, and tried to forge an alliance with the “anti-people” AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.

Dr Ramadoss said the Political Affairs Committee of the party also decided to join the DMK-led Progressive Front in Tamil Nadu and teach the AIADMK a lesson in the coming Lok Sabha poll which, he claimed, would be a referendum on the Jayalalithaa government’s two-and-a-half-year rule. The party’s two ministers would submit their resignations in a couple of days.

Of the five PMK MPs, Mr N T Shanmugam and Mr A K Moorthy are ministers.

Soon after the DMK quit the NDA the Political Affairs Committee of the PMK had met here on December 25 and, after an elaborate discussion, decided to continue in the NDA to ensure that the Vajpayee government completed its full five-year term.

However, following Prime Minister Vajpayee’s announcement that the election process would be completed by April, the PMK has changed its decision and pulled out of the NDA. — UNI


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